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Behind the Scenes with the cast of Blue Stockings

In anticipation of its forthcoming production of Blue Stockings, Oakham School took a peek behind the scenes during rehearsals and caught up with some of the cast.

Making its debut in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from Monday 7 to Thursday 10 March, Drama Scholars at the School are getting ready to portray Jessica Swale’s historically significant story to their audience.

As 2022 marks 50 years of co-education at Oakham School, equality is high on the agenda for pupils and staff alike. Set in Girton College in Cambridge back in 1896, the story follows four talented female undergraduates during their campaign to secure a degree alongside their male colleagues.

The play focuses on sexism in the late nineteenth-century and shows the fight young women, alongside their friends and teachers, had on their hands to achieve equal education rights.

Pupils Chloe, Izzy, Zsolti, Flora and Henrietta G have all shared a behind the scenes look at what can be expected from the performance. As Chloe, Izzy, Zsolti and Flora are Form 7 pupils in their final year at the School, the production carries extra sentiment, with it being the last time the pupils perform in the QET.  

Chloe 

Chloe is playing Celia Willbond, a fragile hard worker who likes to play by the rules. Celia is fiercely loyal to her friends however is a bit of a cynic. 

Chloe said: “I like the strong female presence in Blue Stockings and also the scientific language used. I feel I am learning a lot whilst performing. It is really powerful and emotional to be in the shoes of women that actually had to go through this and we are experiencing first hand, things we thankfully don’t have to in this day and age. Or, not to the same extent at least.” 

“I think it’s an important story because it shows audiences what women actually had to go through in order to just have a voice. It shows that women didn’t just want to be a housewife and sit around arranging flowers and I also think it shows that women deserve more than we are credited for.”

“Mrs Norell, our Director of Drama, is doing something very clever and powerful at the end which brings the story to a modern-day perspective.” 

 

Izzy

Izzy is taking on the role of Tess, a determined and strong-willed student studying astronomy at Girton College.

She said: “I really like playing Tess because she’s very courageous and isn’t afraid to speak up for herself and her beliefs, a characteristic we both share.”

“My favourite thing about the production is the set design, I’ve seen a glimpse and I’m so excited to see how it will develop!”

“Blue Stockings is such an important play because it tackles real-world feminist issues of the late 19th century that strongly relate to issues concerning us today.”

 

 

Zsolti 

Zsolti, who is taking on three roles within the production, is very excited to be taking on the challenging characters of Dr Maudsley, Ralph Mayhew and Billy Sullivan. She is looking forward to representing the villainous side to what is a very important story.

Zsolti said: “It’s been very shocking getting to know the history of the play and I’m really pleased that we’ll get to portray this on the stage and demonstrate the difficulty women had in the nineteenth century. It’s crazy to think that the scientific community actually believed that women weren’t equal to men and that they couldn’t study for a degree.”

“This will be my last production at Oakham School as I’m going to university in September, so it will be very emotional for me. Having said this, I’m sure it won’t be the last time I’m ever in the QET as it holds a lot of fond memories from my time at the School.”

 


Flora

Flora is portraying Carolyn, an upper-class bohemian with and obsession with Afghan hounds. Carolyn is very clever but doesn't often filter what she is saying which can get her into trouble with her fellow classmate Maeve. 

Flora said: “What I love the most about the production is how close we are as a cast and how excited we all are to show such an important story.”

“This is such a significant story to tell as it is an eye-opening story about the first girls at Cambridge girls and their struggle with earning the respect of the professors and the male pupils. The story shows the sexism and prejudice toward woman at the time.”

“The atmosphere in rehearsals is very upbeat, we are all very excited to show such an important story and work together to do so.”

 

Henrietta G

Henrietta, who is in Form 6 at the School, is playing two characters; Mrs Welsh and Mrs Bott.

She said: “I think the thing that is so attractive about Blue Stockings is how timeless it is. Although it’s an event that happened many years ago, there are aspects of it that very much relate to modern day. On top of this, it’s so much fun and there are funny and light-hearted scenes too!”

“It’s important that we keep telling this story and are voices for these people who fought so profusely for what they believed in. And like I said, the topic will always be relevant in our lives.”

“As we get closer to the production there is a certain buzz in rehearsals. We are all so excited but a little bit nervous for it to be seen too. They are intense but due to the fact we are such a close-knit cast, rehearsals are a lot of fun and go super quickly. We all get on so well and I think this reflects in our performance.”

To reserve your ticket for Blue Stockings, email theatretickets@oakham.rutland.sch.uk. Find out more about Drama and Theatre at Oakham School.

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