As I mentioned on Monday, the new Theatre is now ours and
ready for action.  This has been an
enormous project, and I wanted to tell you a little about it today, before we
have Open Day tomorrow.  Those of you
taking tours will have seen it and I do hope that the whole school will get
there at some stage in the coming weeks and months.  It was in 2008 that the school bought a
Church which is situated on the edge of our site, between the Inky at the prep
school and the Art Department and which fronts onto St Peter’s Road.  There had been a church on this site since
1751, part of a small complex which included a house for single (ie unmarried)
brethren (bought by Bedford School in 1921 and which now houses the Art Dept and
Paulo Pontine), a single sisters’ house (currently leased by the Housing
Association) and a ministers’ house (which now forms part of the new theatre
complex, the box office and the studio theatre).  The main church and the ministers house was
bought by the school in 2008 and in 2012 work started which led to it being
turned into a Theatre.  The Church used
to be called St Luke’s and the Theatre will now be called the Quarry Theatre at
St Luke’s.  Although that may seem a bit
of a handful, I like this name.  It pays
tribute to an Old Bedfordian called Gareth Quarry, whose support and
significant generosity gave the initial impetus to the project, but it also
retains the history of the building, which was so important to Gareth Quarry
himself; his family had been prominent members of the church and indeed his
father had been organist since 1945.  One
of the aims of this project was to keep many of the original features, which
you will see when you visit – behind the stage, for instance, the organ screen
itself still stands; and around the auditorium stain glass windows are in

I urge you now to get involved in this amazing new
building, in one of several ways.  The
most obvious is by auditioning for plays and considering the choice of drama
carefully as a curricular option.  There
is no problem if you have not acted before; you may remember Mr Sherwin talking
at Assembly about getting out of your comfort zone – why not give it a try?
Alternatively, put on a play; why not assemble a cast and direct
something?  This is something which is
not considered enough at school, and you can count on support (both moral and
practical) from the drama department. 
Thirdly, offer to work backstage. 
There is a wonderful camaraderie about backstage work and a variety of
skills and interests are needed, from set design to audio to lighting – all of
which can be learned for later in life. 
The theatre itself has its lighting suspended above a wire grid which
means you can literally walk across the ceiling of the theatre to access it
all.  Lastly, you can simply come to
support its activities.  The first show
is called NSFW and is a small pupil production in the Studio Theatre at the end
of next week – tickets are available from the library and there are only 50
seats for each performance so they you will need to collect them soon.  Tickets will be free for all school plays
from now on; but you must return your tickets if you cannot attend, or risk
having to pay in future.  Our first of
several incoming professional shows this term is on 15 & 16 May; boys will
get a discount on tickets to professional shows.  The gala opening will be a ticketed school
play, Shakespeare’s Henry V, at the end of the term; the boys have already been
in rehearsals for several weeks.

Drama has been at the heart of civilisation for
millennia.  It provides a great avenue
for people of all ages and abilities to learn how to express yourself, to read
communication, to work as part of a team, to entertain, to think outside the
box.  We now have one of the best school
theatres in the country – that is a fact; let’s celebrate that by getting


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