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House Entertainment

After weeks of hard work, Bryanston pupils presented the House Entertainment Festival last weekend on the theme of the future.

The House Entertainment Festival sees the boys' and girls' boarding houses working together in pairs to direct and present (and sometimes even write) a play to their fellow pupils with a range of awards on offer. Increasingly inclusive, yet thoroughly competitive, the 2017 House Entertainment Festival was a resounding success in terms of the quality of the finished productions, the directorial skill in evidence, the organisation and effectiveness of rehearsals, the increasing amount of confident acting by pupils, formal auditions with the inclusion of younger years not just friends of the directors, and the ambition and desire to win, shown by all the houses involved.

This meant that the final judging was the hardest it has been for some time. The judges – Jane Quan and Katy Scott from the Drama Department, James Henshaw, Technical Manager of Coade Hall and Preetpal Bachra, Head of Pastoral – found it hard to agree on a number of the awards, as well as one overall winner, as it was difficult to define what made up ‘Best Production’ in relation to the entertainment offered over the weekend. 

The festival was a large and all-encompassing project and, as such, it would not be possible to mention everyone involved, however, here are some of the highlights from the weekend.

The weekend opened with The Hunger Games, performed by Purbeck and Shaftesbury, and directed by Daisy H, Gemma F, Max T and Charlie W. This play benefited from strong, confident leads in Louisa F and Alex S and also a very strong supporting cast of Silva C, Ethan C, Minna W, Oliver L, Henry H (a very near miss for the Nero Prize for Overacting), Orlando A, Leo H, and Gemma F. Their winning film trailer and the additional film sections of the production added to the sophistication and the multi-faceted approach. Dance numbers, use of the ensemble and creative touches, such as the welcoming tribute pairs as the audience entered the theatre, the killer bees, party poppers signifying the death of tributes, edible Ds and use of levels, made this a super production from many angles. Overall, this was a production that set the bar very high for the weekend.

Saturday opened with the 1980s hit film Back to the Future and finished with the only fully original script of the weekend, Dr Who.

Back to the Future, directed by Lotte T, Claudia N, Cam G and Will H, was very strong on its direction and its use of space and involvement of a large supporting cast. The huge clock was a great reminder of the theme and focus of the play, and music strongly supported the changes in time. The dance number was particularly effective, as were the use of mini cars and tractors. Louis P was a strong lead and held things together well and Patrick CM was impressive in his changes of character, particularly in the car scene. John C made an endearing Doc Brown, while Laila E aided the transitions between the periods well, and Johnny P and gang were impressively in character throughout the performance, even whilst dancing. Johnny well deserved his award for Best Supporting Male Actor.

Dr Who, performed by Harthan and Salisbury and directed by Freddie F, Izzy H, Agnes P and Elisei S, brought Saturday night to a joyful close with a short, slick and highly entertaining performance, with a number of surprises and lovely cameos. Both Doctors were strong, with Hugo R and Fergus B sharing the role. As the only totally original script, started by Harry G and finished by Izzy H, Agnes P and the directors and cast, this was perhaps a missed opportunity for an award. Lou H as Missy, Nye M as the Cyberman leader, Alex S as the Dalek leader and the impressively slick Weeping Angels all brought variety and super performances to the play. The dance numbers and design elements were brilliant, hugely adding to the impact. The design team was particularly strong, with brilliant Cyberman costumes and a dance routine that made full use of the extending arms. The flying Tardis also deserves an additional mention.

Sunday opened with the independent and efficient team from Allan and Dorset, with their take on the film Men in Black. Directors Chloe E, India F, Christian G and Joe CJ and their designers Pili W, Hal C, Sophie M, Ed O and Johnny M had created a great play and some fabulous cars, aliens and set items without any help from Coade Hall. The brilliant Anthony FS and Ellie C also led a super list of actors, many who were nominated: Cam T, Archie R, Ollie G, Joe CJ (covering for Jess D with impressive results), Freddie D and Haris W all fit this category with Haris winning the Best Non-Human Award and Cam T a very close runner up.

The final performance of Star Wars was a fitting finish to the weekend, demonstrating some of the characteristics which made this weekend so successful. The play involved large numbers and the storm trooper dance was particularly impressive, a close contender for the Choreography Award. Strong acting from Ellis B, Simon E, Sam E, Sylvester M, Annabelle B, Cara K, Thea B, Hannah M and Tom S helped the play on its entertaining way, as did the surreal arrival of Toby-wan Kenobi.

The witty ‘Imperial Sports Centre’ scene well deserved its award. Projections, lighting, costume and sound design had been prepared carefully by the directors, who also did the choreography and made the film trailer. Their careful preparation and organisation were impressive and the performance was highly entertaining. The directors, Rory D, Ben H, Helena R and Sally T had put a huge amount of time into their preparation – not just this week but throughout the period – and deserve praise for their direction, as do their supporting cast and crew.

The House Entertainment Festival is a long-standing tradition and allows senior pupils the opportunity to take charge, be creative and enjoy the benefits and freedom of leading, as well as, unfortunately, the drawbacks of directing their peers. It hugely depends on the individuals they have in their houses, and, in particular, the support they get from their own year. The staff who are aware of the effort involved are always in awe of what is achieved in the limited time.

This has been a brilliant House Entertainment Festival. The school is tremendously proud of the vast majority who took on the additional responsibility of taking part in a production this term – congratulations and thank you for your time and effort, the results of which entertained 680 pupils over three days!

Finally, a big thank you to the Coade Hall staff and crew and the Drama Department and house staff who have facilitated this weekend, and supported the preparation over this term. In particular, the following have used their technical skill to bring these productions to life:

  • Abby H
  • Callum C
  • Felix H
  • Georgia F
  • Oliver N
  • Harry P
  • Angus W
  • Angus P
  • Adam S