Theatre production company Drama Impact visited Mill Hill School on Friday 16 June to help pupils in Remove develop their understanding of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, one of the English Literature GCSE set texts.
Morning workshops, which explored conflict, movement, body language, message and keywords, were hosted by actors Joanna Nevin and Paul Boichat, who during the afternoon assumed the roles of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth as part of a cast of 10, delivering a captivating 90-minute performance of the play to all pupils in Remove in The Theatre.
The same talented cast also offered an evening performance in the school grounds to an audience of 80-plus enthusiastic theatregoers.
Corinne L (McClure House), said, “The performance helped me to gauge a better understanding of the play and how Shakespeare presented his Jacobean characters.”
Amelie B (Weymouth House), said, “The workshop was very useful in supporting my English revision as well as my Drama GCSE as it covered performance techniques and how to approach character from an actor’s perspective.”
Eva B (School House), added, “The workshop was interactive and stimulating. The actors were engaging and very enthusiastic about and animated in bringing Shakespeare’s theatre to life.”
Mr Vadaszffy (Head of English) commented, “It was wonderful to welcome the cast of Drama Impact to Mill Hill School to perform their most recent production and deliver a very hands-on workshop for our Remove pupils. After parent Burcu Ustunel introduced me to Joanna Nevin, who played Lady Macbeth, I was delighted to arrange a full day of experiences for our pupils as well as for the opportunity to open the school to the wider Mill Hill community through the evening performance.
“I was especially impressed by pupils’ willingness to participate in the workshop – they really engaged and tried to get to grips with the performance aspects of The Scottish Play. In the afternoon, we were treated to a superb, abridged version of the play, which enabled pupils to gain a deeper understanding of the plot, the characters and their relationships. Some exceptional creative choices were made in the direction of the performance, which I believe made the play and some of the characters’ motivations more understandable, and the performances from the actors were truly first-rate.
“The evening performance, which took place outside in The Stoar, brought an entirely new level of atmosphere thanks to the sounds of nature and the direction of the cast, including the Witches, who remained lurking near the audience during the entire production.
I will certainly look forward to welcoming Drama Impact back to Mill Hill School in the future.”
Actor Paul Boichat, who played the title character, explained, “It was a joy to bring Macbeth to Mill Hill School; we really enjoyed both shows, especially the afternoon performance for Remove, using the amazing theatre facilities the School and the pupils have available. It’s been a real highlight of the tour to bring this play alive to a pupil audience; all too often, I think Shakespeare is only read within a school environment when it’s really designed to be performed.
Often, it’s only when the verse is read out loud and performed that you can really understand what makes it so great (and, at a more base level, understand the whole sweep of the play).
“During the performance, you could feel how engaged the pupils were with the story and the text, by the muscular nature of the verse – it’s not just poetry; it’s high stakes, high emotion, and full of living, breathing characters. I think that came across and, in some cases, was definitely a surprise for them!
“Having them in the round and so close during the show really helped with that engagement. As Macbeth, there’s a real danger that the soliloquies become intellectual arguments, somewhat abstract, but being able to deliver them directly to the pupils is a wonderful way to keep them alive and to, I hope, help with understanding.”
Head of English