The longstanding and much loved institution that is House Drama sees our boarding houses – AGN, AGS, Aisholt, Holcombe and Tedworth – challenged to create an original performance. Each piece is led by a production team made up of Lower Sixth pupils who are in charge of devising the piece and leading the rehearsals. On Sunday 8 October, the School community came together to delight in the creativity and ingenuity of each performance and to discover which house would come out as the House Drama 2023 winners.
This year, the theme was ‘What Happened Next? The Movies…’ Each production started with the last few moments of an existing piece of cinema before following the action into the immediate future, imagining what might have happened if the credits hadn’t started rolling.
Our judge for this year is a man who I met years ago when we were both getting our start in the industry – and he has gone on to achieve great things. Pip Minnithorpe is a director and dramaturg with a highly impressive CV, including a stint as Associate Director of Harry Potter in the West End! So I am very much looking forward to his feedback.
– Mr Robert Castell, Head of Enrichment and Extra Curricular Drama
The play succeeds the event of James Bond’s death in the movie No Time To Die. We follow the life of Bond’s daughter, a young adult named Mathilde who struggles with living up to the person that her father once was. We see her grow as a person and come to understand that it is okay to take inspiration from her father while still living for herself.
“Becoming a Director for House Drama was an exciting but equally challenging opportunity to experience. I’ll never forget the lessons I have taken away from House Drama as the opportunity allowed me to open up my mind to a wider perspective.”
– Victoria, Lower Sixth, Director
Having grown up being filmed every day of his life and aired on a show, The Truman Show, end with the protagonist entering the real world. This play watches Truman contemplate his life and be left to decide whether to return to the comfort of the show or stay suffering in the real world.
“Being the Producer for AGS involved bringing a community of phenomenal actors and directors together. It has also involved stepping up to be a leader and a great team player so that every member of our team felt involved in the devising process no matter what their role was. Being Producer has revealed to me that I am capable of doing absolutely anything as long as I am determined and ask for the support of my mentors and my peers. I have learnt that communication is key and being vulnerable with my team is always useful. I have been honoured to have been able to collaborate with the AGS on a performance that hopefully left a smile on the audience faces.”
– Anjola, Lower Sixth, Producer
In a musical sequel to La La Land, the City of Angels once again becomes the backdrop of a tale of love, dreams, and self-discovery. We follow Mia, who appears to have it all: a thriving career, a loving husband and daughter, as an unexpected twist of fate leads her to cross paths with Helen, Seb’s captivating new girlfriend.
The 1939 film, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, is centred around Professor Moriarty’s murders and plot to steal the crown jewels from Britain’s Tower of London. It ends dramatically with a physical struggle between Moriarty and Holmes where they fall off the Tower, presumably to their death…
“When learning I got the role of Scriptwriter and Director for Aisholt, I quickly went from incredibly excited to extremely nervous as the stakes are always high with House Drama! After much research into the Holmes franchise and characters, I finally wrote the script in August, which was then edited and approved by my Assistant Director, Sophia, and Producer, Helena. They gave me valuable staging advice and kindly pointed out any grammatical failings! We took the ‘scene-by-scene’ approach in rehearsals – taking time to truly master the dramatic intentions within each scene, and allowing the girls to grasp their characters. The whole process of script writing, directing and collaborating with everyone in Aisholt to bring our vision to the stage, was thoroughly enjoyable. Taking part in House Drama was a brilliant experience, and I was able to learn organisation and leadership skills, which will help me in the wider world.”
– Hope, Lower Sixth, Writer & Director
The beautiful portrait of a young and exquisitely handsome Dorian Gray has been restored. However, lurking within is the twisted ghost of Dorian himself, now hell-bent on revenge. Dorian’s supernatural antics arouse the suspicions of the local media and a mysterious figure from Dorian’s past emerges with an obsession of her own.
“My role was to help instruct the actors on how to do a scene and judge whether it was the best way it could be presented. We usually rehearsed twice a week for around 2 hours. It was hard and testing at times as it required a lot of energy, hard work and dedication. My role in House Drama has taught me discipline, patience and helped me to expand my leadership skills. Overall, although stressful, it was an amazing experience to see something I produced come to life!”
– Tanaya, Lower Sixth, Producer
We asked our Drama Seniors to reflect on what House Drama has meant to them during their time at Downe House.
“House Drama is so special as it is displays the spirit of the school. Whether you are helping out backstage or the lead role, there is a feeling that everyone cares to do their best. The rehearsal process is one that is short, however you build relationships with students across the years, building solidarity and community between Houses. During my time at School, I have done five House Dramas, in which I particularly enjoyed directing and writing when I was in Lower Sixth. I gained confidence in my writing and it encouraged me to be brave and bold with my creative choices to create a piece of unique theatre. It is also not about the winning – although that does sound cliché! Whether you win or not, you feel as though you have accomplished something that is outside of your comfort zone, especially if you are not a confident actor. In all, House Drama is something that is unforgettable and epitomises what it means to be a Downe House girl.”
– Hannah, Upper Sixth, Head of Academic Drama
“House Drama is definitely the most anticipated event of the school year where every year group can get involved. I am extremely glad to have been involved with all aspects of House Drama from performing, directing and now judging! My favourite memory was probably my first ever House Drama which was the first time AGN had won in 12 years. and even though I was only in the Lower School dance, I felt so included by the House.”
– Eliza, Upper Sixth, Head of Co-Curricular Drama
Thank you to Pip Minnithorpe for lending his expertise to the judging panel, and a huge well done to all the pupils who participated, it truly was a night of performances to remember! In the end, the winners of House Drama 2023 were crowned as Aisholt House. Congratulations, Aisholt!