This year’s School Play was an adventurous choice. Written and originally directed by Polly Teale, one of the rising stars in 21st century theatre, it only finished its original run in May of last year. It captures the essence of current theatre trends, where women are beginning to dominate. Last year eleven West End Theatres pledged to boost female roles, directors and playwrights. And, if you look at the list of cast and creatives at the National, or many of the West End Theatres, you will see woman after woman bringing theatre to life.
The logical response is to emulate these talented and ground-breaking women with girls from MSJ. We took this haunting and beautiful play and brought it to our own York Hall Theatre. The setting, under water, was created to represent the ebb and flow of the ocean, designed by our Artist in Residence and shaped, formed and fashioned by girls and staff. The music was written and adapted by our Musician in Residence and the scenes were directed by the Drama Department, supported by girls.
The play itself offered us a narrative feast – far from shallow Disney shores. Poetic and deep, the text lends itself to vivid images created by the cast, with ‘real’ swimming and furniture ensembles. The bravery of the girls in the physical theatre is a testament to their commitment to the piece – and the training received from the choreographer of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’.
Mrs Munn, Speech and Drama teacher, said "Well done to all involved in the making of 'Mermaid'. This was a production that believed in itself. How wonderful to see actors of a spread of ages not only 'in character' but losing themselves in the spirit of the play's magic, and so proving that magic is real and is in all of us.
We like to rise to a challenge at MSJ and this very recently written play made us face things. It was bigger than the sum of its parts. You see, at its best, acting is not about being brilliant. Well perhaps partly, but not just. It's about being flexible and humble enough to learn, and to confront difficult things. To find a narrative that bears us up and helps carry our souls. It's about how hard and how fantastic it is to be human. It's about not allowing ourselves to be smug. It's about empathy. And the comedy. Where would we be without that?
Congratulations to all and appreciation to Mrs Fisher, Mrs Rhodes and Mrs Burton who didn't stop believing".