Young actors marvel with metatheatre in Perse Lower School Play
28 Jun 2019
Year 7 and 8 actors took on the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Terence Rattigan across two settings in an ambitious Perse Lower School Play production.
The production was a celebration of metatheatre, exploring the concept of a play within a play, with the main element being a performance of Rattigan comedy Harlequinade. Set in a regional theatre, Harlequinade is centred on a dress rehearsal of Romeo & Juliet where all seems to be going to plan until things start to unravel due to deserting actors, personal revelations and scandal.
Before taking their seats in the Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre, the audience were also treated to a staging of Act One of Chekhov’s The Seagull, another example of a play within a play, in the amphitheatre in Ellison Court.
Drama teacher George Smith, who directed the show, said he had become aware of Harlequinade following a recent revival of the play by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.
He said: “I read the play and loved the metatheatre approach of it. The ‘play within a play’ is quite popular at the moment and it’s a fun format to play with.
“It’s easy to connect with because you can understand the references and there’s a lot of natural comedy which can be borne out of it, so I thought it would make a good starting point for the Lower School Play.
“I also thought it would be good to look at other ways in which metatheatre has been used. The first act of The Seagull is all about a character named Konstantin, who puts on a play he has written. This is followed by discussion about the importance of the theatre before people come to blows over what the play should involve!
“The amphitheatre provided a nice setting because the first act of The Seagull is also set outdoors. It was great to use that space as a pop-up theatre.”
Mr Smith said the actors had enjoyed getting their teeth into the project and was delighted with how they brought it to fruition.
He added: “We had some really nice comments from audience members about the performances and the cast as a whole. They really got on board with the comedic aspect of it.”