Burgess Hill School for Girls staged Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’ at the end of the summer term.
It was performed by a cast of 32 girls in Years 7 to 9 and supported by a crew of pupils in production roles such as stage management, sound, lighting, front of house and make up.
David Woods’ adaptation, directed by Mrs Emma Cassim (head of drama), skilfully weaved a beguiling narrative accessible to people of all ages. Music, physical theatre, puppetry, choral speaking, slapstick and many other traditions came together in a wonderful piece of storytelling from an exceptionally talented cast.
The cast and crew were honoured to be joined by the Olivier Award-winning playwright David Wood OBE for the matinee performance, as well as pupils from local primary schools.
He was kind enough to give a talk and took questions from the cast, crew and audience. He also signed scripts and gave some acting advice.
The simple set of white floor, rostra and blocks was complimented by a huge pallet of colours from the lighting design, as well as magnificent paintings of Quentin Blake’s original illustrations created by Year 8 student Missy MacDonald.
The cast conjured up images and locations using their physical skills and ensemble acting, the use of puppets for the child mice was cleverly executed. The costuming was simple, sumptuous and adaptable; allowing for some wonderful stage pictures at important moments such as the entrance of the Witches into the dining room of the Hotel Magnificent.
Bethan, Lily-Mae and Catherine in Year 5 at Southway Primary School said: “The performance was outstanding, the actors were amazing actors and the props were phenomenal! We liked how the crew turned off the lights and put on creepy music, so that we didn’t see or hear them move around between scenes. It was a lovely afternoon and we give a big thanks to Burgess Hill School for Girls for inviting us.”
Mrs Cassim, head of drama said: “In an ensemble cast it is difficult to pick out individual performers and the entire company was truly magnificent. Special mentions, however, must go to Beatrice Brindle who played the Grand High Witch; Cara Eckstein who took on the role of Grandmother; Freya Burleigh who played the part of Boy and Elvie Beaumont who performed the role of Bruno. This was yet another theatrical treat from our talented students. The audience was treated to a wonderfully energetic production – a truly magical piece of theatre that delighted all the senses.”
Report and picture contributed by Burgess Hill School for Girls.