Page 24 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 24

Commedia Del ‘Arte Workshops
Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire, Drama department welcomed Didi Hopkins, the country’s foremost practitioner of Commedia.
Didi worked with over 50 Drama students in 4 sessions from Year 9 to the Upper 6th form, training them in the use of masks,
the creation of character and improvisation. Didi is regularly in demand as a Commedia adviser to the RSC and the National Theatre and worked closely with Richard Bean on the international award-winning “One Man Two Governors”. Assisting Didi in creating short improvised performances with the students was also Elliott Ross, an actor who appeared with the RSC last year and
a specialist in clowning and physical theatre.
Commedia Del ‘Arte or ‘the comedy of the artisan’ emerged ‘fully formed’ in the middle of the 16th Century – some say in Venice or Bologna but it was just as likely to have developed in any Italian town which had a square or market place. It was the  rst truly professional theatre and combined the physical skills of the street performer – tumbling, acrobatics, juggling, with the
plots and characters of Classical Roman comedy and the prose writings of the Renaissance.
Its essence lies in the hierachy
of its stock characters from
the powerful Magni co to the lowly, bumbling servant, Zanni. Performances were improvised around very tightly rehearsed ‘lazzi’ or ‘routines’ that could
be physical, verbal all musical
in style. Some characters were always played in a particular mask but others were unmasked.
Although in its purest form it is rarely seen performed in Britain today, there are still a number of professional troupes working in Italy and France. Its in uences in theatre and performance are absolutely everywhere, however. Manuel the waiter in Fawlty Towers is an archetypal ‘Zanni’  gure, Darth Vader an all- powerful Magni co.
Training in Commedia is not
only of enormous bene t to an actor, developing highly complex physical skills and the ability to connect quickly and effectively with an audience, but it is now increasingly being used as a business tool in companies across Europe to train executives to think quickly and creatively ‘on their feet’.
Big Apple trip is a blast
Theatre loving King’s Ely students spent their half term break soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of New York.
A group of more than 30 King’s Ely Senior Drama and Theatre students and staff spent the week in the Big Apple, where they got to participate in exciting theatre workshops run by industry professionals.
The group also saw the touching new musical, Dear Evan Hansen, which moved just about everybody to tears, and they enjoyed a tour of the famous NBC Studios, where the pupils split into groups to perform and direct their own ‘live’ chat show.
The action-packed trip also included visiting the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
Director of Drama and Theatre at King’s Ely, Nick Huntington, commented: “Our pupils were not only able to immerse themselves into the theatrical scene in New York, working with industry professionals currently performing on the Broadway stage, but they were able to soak up the sights of one of the greatest cultural hubs in the world. It was an extraordinary educational experience for our drama pupils at King’s Ely and one they will never forget.”
Dance spectacular
Dancers from The Hawthorns School of Dance, Surrey, are celebrating the success of their sell out show ‘Got to Dance’.
Over 900 spectators attended The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill to watch the Hawthorns School of Dance Biennial Dance Show. More than 250 children took to the stage to perform a mix of dances. The audience were treated to some remarkable performances which included Baby Ballet, Hip Hop, Latin
24 Music, Dance & Drama
American, Ballroom and Tap from boys and girls as young as 3 to 18.
Head of Dance, Tanya Greenwood said: “The smiles and energy level all dancers brought to the stage
was remarkable; the audience
could clearly see the progression in technique from our younger dancers to our senior dancers. Without the help from staff and parents, the Show would never have taken place and for that I am truly grateful.”

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