On Wednesday 16th October, myself and eighteen other pupils ranging from Year 8 to Year 13 travelled by minibus to the South Hill Park Arts Centre in Bracknell to perform our half an hour modernised version of Shakespeare’s comedy ‘As You Like It’. We arrived in the early afternoon for a technical rehearsal where many of the cast members were able to experience the Wilde Theatre’s stage for the first time.
The Shakespeare Schools Festival gives the opportunity for a student to direct and this year I was thrilled to be given this opportunity.
The process began all the way back in February, where after much deliberation I chose the play to be ‘As You Like It’, a comedy involving love, disguises and lots of marriages! Following this was the auditions in June and the tricky decision of casting.
Also in June, I attended a full day directing workshop in Reading ran by SSF members who gave insight and knowledge in how to direct and the different methods that I could use in rehearsals with the cast.
We began rehearsals the first Monday back of school in September and with only six and a half weeks before the final production we rehearsed every Monday from 3-5pm in the Drama Studio and eventually on the school’s stage.
In late September we attended a whole cast workshop where we worked with an SSF leader who helped me to develop a chosen scene which the cast then performed to another school. For the first time, during the penultimate week to the real show our production was performed to all other years in assemblies in the main hall and so the cast had four full dress runs to prepare themselves for the final performance. Finally, six weeks after we began rehearsing, I was stood in the wings watching the cast perform Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ to a full audience and I believe I speak on behalf of both mine and the rest of the cast when I say that it was a wonderful experience.
A performer writes - Shahrina Sikandari, Year 9
On Wednesday 16th October, the cast of 'As You Like It' performed at South Hill Park Arts Centre in Berkshire with four other schools. The play was directed by the talented student-director Minnie Cross, who is a member of Herschel’s Sixth Form.
The cast consisted of eighteen members, who were all very passionate about their roles and the whole production in general. It was one of the most amazing experiences we had ever had. We loved every minute of it; we loved the rehearsals, the people, the performances, those moments where we freaked out before going on stage. Everything. Every Monday after school until the final performance we would have rehearsals, which were an opportunity for us to learn new things, to become better actors and to form strong relationships with our fellow cast members. Not only did we learn a lot but we had a lot of fun too, and every idea was appreciated and taken into action. Every step of the way was fun way to learn new things, and it helped with our public speaking and self-confidence.
Many of the members have said that they’ve enjoyed it greatly, had so much fun and learnt so much new things and that they’ll definitely audition again next year. A member of the cast has been quoted saying “The play helped me deal with my stage fright a lot! I’m thankful for this experience as it has taught me so much, I hope I can do it again next year as not only did I enjoy acting and showing off my skills, but I also enjoyed making new friends and working in a team with people as ambitious and hard working as me.”