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Y12 Theatre Studies Students to Perform at Upton House

A picturesque country house in the heart of England that served as a bank in World War II for M. Samuel and Co. Bank owned by Lord and Lady Bearsted has been transformed by the National Trust to allow visitors to explore how the house operated whilst the bank staff lived there.

On the 13th July Year 12 Theatre Studies students are performing around the house, discovering what life was like for bank staff and the land girls who cared for the gardens during the war.

On 22 June we went to Upton House to carry out initial research and uncover how the family and bank staff lived during the war.  We were guided around the stunning gardens, finding simply perfect places to perform our short vignettes about the land girls.  Each space initiated a new idea - the pool was an elegant location, the vegetable patch was perfect to show the land girls completing their work, and the rose garden served the purpose of conveying the land girls having a relaxing break or looking after the flowers.  The orchard complimented the exploration of either the land girls or the bank staff and we had so many ideas!  All the outdoor locations were beautiful and provoked a plethora of thoughts.  They also enabled us to discover new performance skills, as acting outside is unfamiliar to most of us and it requires us to project and interact with the space but also to attract visitors.

When we moved inside the beautiful house, we found so many equally wonderful places to perform that perfectly fitted the roles of our characters.  Some of the locations inside that particularly struck us included the Long Gallery, Library, Lounge and Bathroom.  The Long Gallery contained type writers which were used by the bank staff and genuine letters from to bank staff and family.  This room provided plenty of props and scenery for us to interact with and the realistic set transported us back to World War II.  The Library and Lounge were stylish and delicate and the Bathroom was striking and unusual.  Originally it was completely decorated in aluminium in an art deco style but now it is painted in sliver to represent the aluminium.  You are drawn to it right from the end of the landing and we all gravitated towards it.  All of these rooms were absolutely fascinating and served as a brilliant source of information as to what life was like then, which then helped us to form ideas on vignettes to perform.

This project is really intriguing and we are all extremely excited to be able to devise our own vignettes and perform in such a stimulating and charming location.  

Elizabeth Huskisson, Year 12