A2 Drama Students’ Play Celebrates Over 400 Years of Shakespeare
The Devised Piece written by the A2 Drama and Theatre Studies group this term was based on the afterlife of the character ‘Ophelia’ from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Having seen, last year, the amazing RSC production, directed by Simon Goodwin, the group took the stimulus of the paintings of Ophelia by Edwin Austen Abbey and John Everett Millais and was inspired to explore Ophelia’s journey.
Flora Barber, Sere Oluwayemi and Isobel Vickery explain “Ophelia’s Echo is a story of hope, love and loss following the journey of three characters from Shakespeare’s plays. Written and designed completely by three A2 Drama and Theatre Studies students, the play celebrates over 400 years of Shakespeare in iambic pentameter, built from the quotations of his works and entwined with contemporary music, movement and technology in a timeless story of the human condition. Inspired by the RSC’s ground-breaking production of ‘The Tempest’, Frantic Assembly’s ‘Lovesong’ and Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’, this play teaches us that “My love must reach beyond where light doth dim/ Encase my darkness just as does my light.”
Set in a limbo or bardo type state, Juliet and Hippolyta find Ophelia trapped in her own purgatory; a state of mind that colours her experience of the world so vividly it becomes her reality. The space is fluid, unique to each character, as though we are exploring Ophelia’s journey through her mind’s eye. Having been prevented from grieving during her life, she committed suicide, and so is left to confront the fears that paralyse her. By receiving the support and guidance she needs, an inner peace that is desperately searched for can be found. In following through the stages of her grief we too can learn to love life again even in the darkest of days.
Hippolyta is a woman of strength, experience and wisdom. A fighter, the Queen of the Amazons brings to Ophelia a constancy and stability. She is resilient and, having dealt with her own pain, provides a mother-like relationship to Juliet whilst helping Ophelia work through her troubles, as a mentor would counsel a protégé. Through the death of her husband as a direct result of a revenge plot against him for taking her a prisoner wife and after taking another lover, Hippolyta’s understanding of anger and fury instantly connects to Ophelia’s state of mind. She had allowed herself to be vulnerable only to be betrayed in love and so decides to help all women overcome any injustices in relation to men so they can stand independent and strong once again.
Juliet may seem unfulfilled having left life too early, but it is something she chose to do; she dived into death in the same way that she embraced life. In helping Ophelia, her kind heart lends itself to relatability, having had no-one to turn to for help herself when she was in pain. Juliet’s excitement is that of a young child who wants to experience the entirety of the world all at once, and marvels at anything she sees that is pretty or interesting. Juliet is young and spritely; she is not old enough to understand fully the depth of Ophelia’s situation but her heart is big enough to attempt to give her whole spirit and compassion to those she loves, as she did with Romeo. She loves without restraint.
Without Hippolyta, Ophelia would have the love of Juliet but would be without the knowledge to truly deal with her grief. Without Juliet, Ophelia would know how to overcome her fears, however, would relapse without the loving support of Juliet.”