The Ladies’ College production ‘Taking centre’
This year marks the 150th anniversary of The Ladies’ College and throughout the academic year, the College will be hosting events to mark the occasion, including this year’s production: ‘Taking Centre’, written and directed by Head of Drama, Maggie King.
The production will take place at the Princess Royal Centre for Performing Arts from Thursday 2 February to Saturday 4 February from 7pm.
The production, which is a whole school event (with staff and students from Year 7 – Sixth Form on and backstage) centres around four key stories, interwoven together. One narrative follows a young woman, Olivia, who wishes to pursue her goal to be a West End star and we follow the ups and downs of pursuing such a career. While another narrative follows Anoushka, who faces the challenges of medical school; another follows a girl called Kathy, who is a victim of bullying at school; as well as a final family narrative with mature themes.
“I have tried to offer opportunity for our students to showcase their very varied talents – from those who love to sing and dance, to those who play an instrument, to those who love a serious acting role and everything in between,” says Head of Drama, Maggie King.
“This piece is a real collaboration of everything we hold dear at college – our staff and students working together to be the best that they can be – and it is truly a pleasure to see our students make friends across year groups, work together to learn choreography and take on leadership roles to produce a show we can all be proud of.”
The idea for writing a play came from the UK’s ‘Write The Girl Initiative’, whereby girls’ schools commission plays from writers and theatre practitioners to showcase females in theatre. ‘As part of the celebrations of our college’s anniversary I was asked to write a play for our students. Females are often marginalised in theatre and my remit was to write good parts for young women and I hope the play is successful in that,’ continues Maggie.
Maggie writes the staff pantomime every year, which is a roaring success. She has previously adapted novels into plays in her prior career as an actor and theatre director.
During the writing phase of the play, a competition was launched at The Ladies’ College for students to submit pieces to be included in the final show and the winners’ work is featured in several scenes.
The play also features three musical songs, one of which has been written by Maggie and colleague Dave Herschel, the latter of whom also wrote the original music for this showstopper. Dave has often featured in the school shows – either playing in the band or on stage (notably as Vince Fontaine in the college’s 2021 production of ‘Grease’). This time, two other members of staff take to the stage – Tiggy Montague and Tom McGovern. On taking part in the show, Tiggy says: ‘I relish the opportunity to take part in our whole college productions, it’s so different to our normal roles. I am routinely dazzled by the talent, creativity and commitment of our students and even more so of Mrs King, and I still can’t seem to remember all the dance moves!’
James Henderson, a talented musician in his own right, and a member of the senior leadership team, is Musical Director for the show.
The show also features choreography by three Year 11 students: Evie, Amy and Layla, who together have choreographed the dance for one of the key numbers and ensured that the cast members were put through their paces. As dance captains, they also helped the cast to learn and rehearse the other choreography in the play.
“I am incredibly proud of Evie, Amy and Layla,” says Maggie. “It is great to see our students volunteering for leadership roles like this and I am always amazed at how talented they are and how they bring on the other cast members with their kind and positive work ethic. They have been a real asset to the production.”
This year also marks the first for a student taking on the role of Assistant Director. Jess, in Lower Sixth, has been supporting the production, blocking scenes while others are rehearsing. “I did GCSE drama and really enjoyed the acting side of things, but I have been interested in trying my hand at directing for some time. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to be Assistant Director on this production – I am learning lots of new skills and it’s a great experience,” enthuses Jess.