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Oakham School Archives

Explore the history of the school through the documents and objects that have been left behind...

Introduction

Four plays and musicals

The Scottish play has been performed no less than four times at Oakham School. It is remembered as a play of “firsts” at Oakham School.

 

1953 – The first Shakespearean play performed in the Barraclough Hall.

Macbeth was first directed in December 1953 by Leslie Coleman, Maths master. Theatrical effects had to be experimented with. For instance, the witches got their fog of smoke powder from the chemistry labs.

“One thing was certain before the curtain went up, as soon as the lights were dimmed and the opening music began, the Barraclough Hall is an admirable setting for Shakespeare. The dim lights reflecting on the stone walls at the side of the stage curtains might have been the light of a pale moon shining on the castle at Inverness. The lighting, the choice of incidental music, the noises off, effects and timing were all beyond criticism, and all played their part in establishing atmosphere without drawing attention to themselves for cleverness-but the cleverness was there all right, and there must have been a great deal of patient experiment and invention before just the right effect was achieved. Of the actors, the principals, P. M. North as Macbeth and J. A. Cope as Lady Macbeth, were in a very high class indeed as schoolboy actors.” Oakhamian Magazine, Easter term 1954, vol 69.

 

1988 – The first Shakespearean play performed in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

It was the first Shakespeare play that David Smith directed as Director of Drama. It was performed in March 1988 in the newly refurbished QET. Leslie Coleman, the original director, summarised the 1988 performance in four elements: “David Smith's taut, imaginative and fast-moving production; a design staff (set, costumes, music, lights and props) which combined splendidly to catch the 'feel'; a very hardworking and committed company; Andrew Pullan's outstanding performance.”

 

2001/2002 – The first of the major tragedies taken on tour in the United States.

It was again directed by David Smith. However, the set, costumes and interpretation were quite different from that of 1988. The staging was innovative and the cast and crew took some risks, omitting for instance the witches’ first scene. The actors moved in a pared-down stage design of a black set and a red circle, suggesting the dark and bloody action. Katie White and Camilla Lawson shared the roles of Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff.

The cast toured in California and played at four venues during the Easter break 2001.

 

2009 – An outdoor performance for the ages.

On Friday 13 November premiered the main school production of Macbeth, directed by Gilly Norell. The Head of Drama reinvented the play and the space completely. The set was indeed not inside the school theatre but in a tent, in the QET quad. Rather appropriately for a performance of the Scottish play, the cast performed under inclement weather of rain and wind. A memorable scene was the emerging of the witches from beneath the banqueting table, following the appearance of Banquo's ghost – “a veritable coup de theatre”.

Nero Gallery

Nero - The Musical, 1990.

Michael Mukhopadhyay as Nero, at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1990.

Nero - The Musical, 1990.

Rebecca Robinson as Agrippina, at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1990.

Nero - The Musical, 1990.

Nero and Agrippina on the stage at Edinburgh. Archive number: CUR/2/7/1/1/56

Nero - The Musical, 1990.

Nero - The Musical, 1990.

Nero - The Musical, 1990.

Nero - The Musical, 1990.

The original cast of Nero - The Musical. Archive number: CUR/2/7/1/1/60

Nero - The Musical, 2000.

James Copp as Nero, on the stage of the QET in 2000.

Nero - The Musical, 2000.

James Copp (Nero) and Ellen Branagh (Agrippina), on the stage of the QET in 2000.

Nero - The Musical, 2000.

Nero - The Musical, 2000.

The female cast of the revival of Nero - The Musical.

Nero - The Musical, 2000.

The male cast of the revival of Nero - The Musical.

Macbeth Gallery

Macbeth, Christmas 1953.

Performance of Macbeth in the Barraclough Hall. J.A. Cope (Lady Macbeth), P.M. North (Macbeth), Terry West (Assistant Producer), Schofield and Morlen (Effects), Tallerer and Blair (Lights), J. Bellamy (Grand Electrician), P.M. de Fraine (Prompter). Archive number: PHA/1/7/U/2

Macbeth, Christmas 1953.

J. Greenwood (Lennox), M.W. North (Banquo), A.J.G. Pollard (Ron), P.J.D. James (Duncan), W.D. Manby (Gentlewoman). Archive number: PHA/1/7/U/2

Macbeth, 1988.

A witch on the stage of the QET in 1988.

Macbeth, 1988.

The witches on the stage of the QET.

Macbeth, 1988.

Rebecca Ward (Lady Macbeth) and Andrew Pullan (Macbeth) in the QET. Archive number: CUR/2/8/3/10

Macbeth, 1988.

Archive number: CUR/2/8/3/17/A

Macbeth, 2001.

Nick Dalton (Macbeth) and Camilla Lawson (Lady Macbeth) performing in California.

Macbeth, 2001.

The witches in the new production of Macbeth in California.

Macbeth, 2001.

Mr Derek Grant as Duncan.

Macbeth, 2001.

Katie White (Lady Macbeth) and Nick Dalton (Macbeth).

Macbeth, 2001.

The Scottish Noblemen, on the Drama tour to California.

Macbeth, November 2009.

The witches on the outdoor stage, in the QET lawn. Archive number: CUR/2/8/5/2

Macbeth Reunion of 1988.

The 1953 cast posing with the 1988 cast.

Macbeth Reunion of 2002.

Four 'Lady Macbeth': Camilla Lawson (2001), Rebecca Ward (1988), John Cope (1953) an Katie White (2001).

On the razzle Gallery

On the razzle, 1984.

The Quatercentenary performance of On the razzle.

On the razzle, 1984.

The Quatercentenary performance of On the razzle.

On the razzle, 1984.

The Quatercentenary performance of On the razzle.

On the razzle, 2014.

The new cast of On the Razzle, celebrating the 30 years of the QET.

The Crucible Gallery

The Crucible, 1992.

Archive number: CUR/2/2/42/1

The Crucible, 1992.

Archive number: CUR/2/2/42/4