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London Art / Theatre experience 2011

Posted in: Latest News on Friday, February 3rd, 2012

On Dec 13th and 14TH 2011 The Drama and Art Department took a party of 50 mixed year pupil  for a 2 day residential in London .This year 2 the shows were ‘ War Horse and Matilda  and the Art group visited The National Gallery, Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery. All students followed the same programme on the first day and after checking into a very stylish refurbished Hotel in Hendon we headed off to the West End. First stop was Covent Garden to see the fabulous Christmas decorations, street theatre and live music and to do a spot of Christmas shopping before an early supper at the very atmospheric Rainbow Forest Café full of jungle roars and running streams. After a brisk walk through China Town we arrived at the New London Thetare to see ‘War Horse‘ based on the celebrated novel by Michael Morpurgo. The play is described in The Times as ‘’heartbreakingly beautiful,” full of technical wizardry and its sheer skill and invention is awe inspiring. So much so that in 2010 Steven Spielberg, sat weeping, in the stalls of the theatre and decided there and then to make the movie, phoned up Morpurgo that night and the rest – after filming on Dartmoor – as they say – is history!

On day two the Drama group arrived at The Theatre Studios in Oxford Street  for a practical workshop on ‘Matilda’ The corridors were full of nervous  actors clutching scripts as auditions were being held for ‘Wicked’ and  ‘Billy Elliot‘ in the main studios. Actors from the cast of ‘Matilda’ put the group through their paces working on performance techniques and sections from the script . Afterwards we had a talk and Q&A session on ‘Page to Stage‘- the process involved in producing a west end show and the demands on the actors. They praised our students for their Spontaneity, creativity and maturity and emphasised how much they had enjoyed working with us! In the afternoon we saw ‘ Matilda ‘ and even after a few minutes it was easy to see why this show after having been open for a few weeks had won best London Musical, Best Actor (Bertie Carvel)  and Best Musical score by the fabulous Australian comedian  Tim Minchin. We decided that  ‘Matilda the Musical  ‘  as the Telegraph described  ‘…will be unstoppable‘  and definitely be following ‘War Horse ‘ to Broadway wining heaps of awards too. I didn’t think we could beat 2010 but we did!

Day Two – Art Attack

For the Art students, day two began with the prestigious ‘Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize’ at the National Portrait Gallery, the leading international photographic portrait competition, which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography. This amazing exhibition was a great opportunity to view some of the very finest photographic portraiture in the world. Students experienced honest and revealing portraits of people ranging from the actress Keira Knightley to less fortunate individuals living in poverty in India. Although the winner – Jooney Woodward had previously been announced, none of our students could agree on a winner such was the quality of work.

After a quick portrait session of our own in Trafalgar Square with Charlie Chaplin and Batman we headed for the Tate Modern at Bankside. The cathedral of art that is Tate Modern is an awe-inspiring sight – as our students exclaimed! We headed straight for the headline exhibition featuring Gerhard Richter, a German painter, photographer and video artist.  Richter’s artwork did not disappoint, his large-scale paintings, some the size of a house, are beguiling.  After taking in the most of the galleries and spending far too much time and money in the fantastic Tate shop, we headed by tube to the new Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. In what was the former Queen’s Barracks we were met by one of the curator’s for a gallery led talk and discussion. We were led around Saatchi’s new exhibition of New Art from Germany. All the work has been produced young German artists, such as painters, sculptors, digital artists and game makers! After what had been a fairly demanding but inspiring day, our students asked some very searching questions of the art that had been produced and made some very smart observations of the work. Smiling, our curator said he had been given food for thought by our student’s questions and comments! Well done St James, you did us proud!

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