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Oakham Drama Scholars Tackle Inequality in Blue Stockings

Oakham School’s Drama Scholars took on the issue of inequality in education in the 1800s for their latest production, Blue Stockings.

Pupils put on an empowering production in the School’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre earlier this month and were very humbled to be portraying 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 production focuses on sexism in the late nineteenth century and portrays the fight young women, alongside their friends and teachers, had on their hands to achieve equal education rights.

Director of Drama at Oakham School, Gilly Norell, said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to direct this significant play with this particular group of young people. Their resilience at this time in no small way reflects that of the young protagonists in the piece.

“I’m always sad to say goodbye to our Form 7 (Year 13) Drama Scholars but this was a wonderful ‘swansong’ for all involved and a tremendous example of the collaborative (and redemptive) nature of theatre with a perfect synergy between actors and technical elements. An all-round fabulous team effort and one that will live long in the hearts and memories of all.”

The production and set design used in the production was outstanding, with clever revolving flats creating indoor and outdoor scenery. The music used between scenes also deserves a special mention, as powerful ballads from female artists were used to complement the story.

Blue Stockings held extra sentiment for the Form 7 Drama Scholars as this marked their last School production.

Form 7 pupil Flora, who took on the role of Carolyn, said: “What I loved the most about the production is how close we are as a cast. This is such a significant story to tell as it is an eye-opening tale 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.”

Zsolti, also in Form 7, who took on many roles in the production, including Dr Maudsley and Ralph Mayhew, added: “It’s been very shocking getting to know the history of the play and I’m really pleased that we got 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.”

Find out more about Drama and Theatre at Oakham School.

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