Pupils in the Upper and Middle School at Oakham are currently rehearsing a ‘groovy’ version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – set in the 1960s! “We chose a play that could be easily divided up to enable social distancing between year groups,” explains Gilly Norell, Director of Drama at Oakham School. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is perfect – we have our Form 6 actors playing the court characters, and our Form 4 actors taking the roles of the mechanicals in the wood. This means that we are able to safely rehearse whilst keeping the pupils in their year group bubbles.”
As the play has been performed previously at Oakham, Mrs Norell wanted to ensure there was a new and exciting twist – which she has achieved by setting it in a different era – the 1960s! “The play evokes a dreamlike feel, which fits perfectly with the psychedelic, hippy vibe of the Sixties,” adds Gilly. “The parallels between the woods and nature work incredibly well too – and allow us to set the play outside, under canvas, which helps our performances to be Covid-safe.”
The cast of 15 are all looking forward to treading the boards in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre once more – when rehearsals are able to be in person, rather than on screen. So far they have been developing their characters and learning their lines via their remote rehearsals – so it will be exciting for them to begin blocking and staging.
“I can guarantee that the play will have a great celebratory feel – which will certainly work well in a few months’ time, when we are able to safely gather together to watch the performance,” concludes Gilly. “It will be an explosion of colourful costumes and excellent comedic acting, along with a sprinkle of special Sixties fairy dust!”