Its been a busy week for everyone at Manor – not least the Performing Artists. Wednesday saw the first workshop in the new school building; not bad considering we only moved in on Monday, and a range of students took part in a workshop based on Billy Elliot, lead by Matthew Dale who had played Tony (Billy’s older brother) in the West End two years ago
Thursday brought the first rehearsal of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the KS3 cast since we moved and meant that we could finally walk around the areas where we plan to perform. The concept of a promenade production started to make a lot more sense to the cast and we’ve made sure we’ve left some time for the audience to sit down to recover walking up to the top floor and back. All we will tell you for now is that you start in the Food Court and end in the Theatre
On Saturday, a group of students from Y7-Y11 gave up their Saturday to help ex Manor pupil, Rhys Stevens, film his final degree project. Rhys’ film is set in a school and he needed extras to help create the atmosphere of a real school day, so armed with the ties from ‘Our House’ (which are really Hogwarts ties) twenty Manor students experienced their first filming day.
Rhys had written the script as well as directing and the main cast were made up of ex Manor students Melissa Sert, Lewis McBean, Emma Flint & Robyn Timothy. They all studied drama GCSE whilst at Manor and were leading lights in the department with many lead roles amongst them including Sandy in Grease (Melissa), Reverend Shaw in Footloose (Lewis), Frenchie in Grease (Emma), & an obsessed Elvis Presley fan (Robyn).
All are currently completing their degrees in various subjects but two continue to study Drama; Melissa & Lewis. Melissa is at Huddersfield University studying Performing Arts and Lewis is completing his course in Musical Theatre at GSA (Guildford School of Acting) and already has an agent ready for his professional career. It was fantastic to see them all again and hear their stories of University although they looked scarily like they’d never left school once back in uniform.
Rhys was joined by a crew from University including Mat Appleyard, another ex Manor pupils who is now in his first year on the same course as Rhys. The crew were their to work on camera, lighting, rigging, sound & make up as well as an assistant director and a producer. We were all very impressed with their professionalism and it didn’t take our students long to get used to the formula of waiting for the sound, lights, camera to be ready, the call for silence on set, the declaration of what scene and which take we were on and then the clapperboard being snapped before the Assistant Director called Action.
Our current students were taken by surprise by how long it takes to film one scene but soon realized that many different angles were needed ready for editing and they repeated the same scene for around one and a half hours. Luckily for them, the first scene was a lunchtime scene so lunches were eaten early and extra chocolate and crisps were provided for them.
Olivia walked in with her tray numerous times and later went on to film her close up of sitting down, looking at the ‘imaginary’ people around her then quickly moving seats. Charlotte (who was playing ‘one armed girl’) was given a little respite at times so she didn’t get cramp too much and the scene was finally completed.
Whilst the next scene was being rehearsed in the PE classroom, three students completed some extra close up work in the Food Court before joining the others. The next scene had fewer angles and less close ups so didn’t take as long to film. The action then moved to the corridor and into Music before then moving upstairs to a break out space.
The script called for four girls to be ‘murdered’ by Melissa’s character and Hannah, Emelia, Olivia and Lucy volunteered – Emelia was extremely excited to receive some stage make-up to simulate a neck injury as she had asked for the part as soon as she realized it would look gory!
The filming was due to continue on Sunday before shooting was completed and the editing process could begin. Rhys has agreed to return to Manor for a Premiere of his degree film and we are all looking forward to seeing the finished project and of being involved in a piece of work with ex pupils who are Manor Family and who are destined to be great successes in their fields of work.
The next few weeks promise to be equally as busy as we start rehearsals for the Alumni Show (12th & 13th July), Senior & Junior Choir rehearsals begin, Performance group continue their work for their premiere and Arts Award Gold students continue working towards their showcase. KS3 pupils continue their rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream (especially relevant as Shakespeare’s birthday and anniversary of his death are on April 23rd) and Dance Group continue rehearsing for the end of year show. This is all on top of preparation for GCSE Drama performances on 6th May and the Drama & Music GCSE written exams.
The Academy at Manor certainly gives a wide range of opportunities to the students and all in one week!