Bedford School houses went head to head in the annual House Drama competition. This year, we rolled out the red carpet for an Oscar themed, movie spectacular event. Each house devised a piece of theatre around a randomly selected film genre and prizes were awarded for best actor, best script and best direction, as well as best overall house.
Who better to give you a roundup of the evening, than Lower Sixth Form drama student, Jonny Hosking…
What do you get when you mix together a series of bizarre plots, outlandish characters and (dare I say) humour? Bedford School’s annual House Drama competition of course! When Tom Houghton, the evening’s adjudicator and established British comic, stood up after the six performances, his exclamation of “That was seriously weird!” came as no surprise.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘At The Movies’ and just before the Christmas break, a representative from each house randomly chose their play’s genre out of a decorative top hat (it is the Drama department after all!) The genres at stake were Film Noir, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Silent Film, Western and Musical. The boys were then left with the task of writing an original script, about 15 minutes in length, with their genre in mind. The launch party set the competition off with a bang and filled the boys with inspiration and passion for their original projects… or in the case of every house, leave it to the last two weeks before the competition to get a shuffle on!
Alas, the fateful night came after many last minute, stress-filled rehearsals by all houses. The sudden panic had now settled into a more relaxed energy more than anything else as everyone took their seats in the Quarry Theatre. The lights turned dark, there was a collective hush across the auditorium and the curtain raised. And now they’re off!
Now letting pupils loose in a theatre with the task of writing and devising their own sketch comedy sounds like any drama teacher’s worst nightmare. But this evening offered something very special. Special mention to current Bedford School Head Boy, Frank Hearnshaw, for being the evening’s excellent MC, offering humorous interludes throughout each house’s transition. First off we had Crescent House with their Western, titled ‘Los Dos Amigos’ written by Felix Iles and directed by Felix Hill (both Upper Sixth). This set the tone for the evening with their hilarious in-jokes as well as their cheeky jabs at the school’s various policies, both of which left the school boys in the audience howling with laughter. Perhaps as they were first, Crescent suffered the blow of the adjudicator’s preconceived expectations, and were criticised for their lack of fluidity as well as their inability to stick to their genre. Next we had Paulo Pontine with ‘The Silent Surgeon’ which, surprise surprise, was the Silent Film for this evening. As Silent Films go, this one certainly had a substantial amount of dialogue, however, there was much to like about this performance. Standouts here were of course Harry Hine (Fourth Form) the competition’s Best Actor winner, Conor Hilliard (Upper Sixth) the competition’s Best Director winner, as well as Enoch Mukungu (Lower Sixth), for not only writing a brilliant script but also managing to pluck up the courage to walk out onto stage, in front of an audience filled with mostly his peers, in full-on drag! To close the first act of the night’s performances was St Cuthbert’s House with their Film Noir aptly titled ‘Murder in the Jade Place’. This humorous take on classic 40’s Gangster movies followed a detective’s personal struggle against the Hong Kong Mafia. The piece offered lots of comedic narration, slo-mo kung fu and (surprisingly for House Drama) a gripping story, written by George Christian, who was appropriately named the evening’s Best Writer.
After a brief interval and a necessary recovery of senses, the audience were given the real treat of the evening: Bromham House with ‘Ah, America!’ the much anticipated Musical for the evening. I will make my best attempt to be as impartial as possible but this was the real cream of the crop for theatre. A musical about Donald Trump and Barack Obama sounds like a golden idea and we were surprised no one had thought about it before. The piece was written and directed by myself and Ethan Chappell-Mason (Upper Sixth) with a cast of eight boys willing to go along with the madness we had put on the page. The two highlights for us were the parody of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ sung by Donald Trump (Jonathan Hosking (Lower Sixth)) expressing his dissatisfaction with immigrants and his love for everything ‘Great!’ about America, as well as Barack Obama (Enyichi Chuckwu (Lower Sixth)) rapping to an edited version of ‘Hate it or Love it’ by The Game. This performance was certainly the standout for the evening, in my humble opinion! Penultimately, we had Ashburnham with their take on the Sci-Fi genre with ‘Ashburnham to the Future’ directed and written by George Roberton (Fifth Form). With a direct inspiration from ‘Back to the Future’ (fanfare and all!) the boys took the opportunity to poke fun at what the future of Bedford School might hold if a certain someone in Ashburnham House became Headboy, and then further down the line… the Headmaster! The play was full of gut-busting gags and the seriously witty script led the way for a very successful performance. Last but not least we had St Peter’s with the tricky genre of Thriller. Writer/director Joshua Nethersole had written a script inspired by Jurassic Park titled… ‘Jurassic Park’. While the interpretation of the genre was fairly dubious, the story was something else. From what I remember, Neo from the Matrix had gone to visit Jurassic Park along with other such guests such as Ellie the dog walker and Rostagno the construction worker… I think Frank’s hesitant reaction to his own house’s performance said it all!
Finally, after a brief waiting period, whereby the boys all crowded round each other to discuss the highlights of the evening, Tom Houghton strolled onto centre stage to thunderous applause. His comments ranged from the all the performances being very amusing to seriously berserk . The houses were placed in this order:
4th St Cuthberts
6th St Peters
Best Actor: Harry Hine (Paulo)
Best Director: Conor Hilliard (Paulo)
Best Scriptwriter: George Christian (St Cuthberts)
Well done to everyone to competed this year, and here’s to House Drama 2019!