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Every year our 1st and 2nd forms look forward to a large-scale theatrical production during the summer term and by now would be feeling the joy and satisfaction that goes into the completion of a project of this scale, which demands all of their effort and commitment. For alternate years we choose to perform a musical as our theatrical tour de force and our 2020 production was scheduled to be the ever-popular Bugsy Malone.

Work started as soon as we went back to school after the Christmas break. Parts were cast, lines gradually learnt, rehearsal schedules in full flow, costume teams busy sewing and the lighting and set design at an advanced stage, when everything came to a grinding halt.

Once we realised that we wouldn’t be going back to school, we needed to initiate a Plan B and so Mr Martin-Nye got thinking about what we could do to keep our creative esprit intact. He came up with the idea of a collaborative set design project that would develop and progress into an individual competition.

From week one of the new term, 1st and 2nd Form were challenged to chat through their ideas for an elaborate, immersive version of Bugsy Malone and add these to the collaboration space in their OneNote jotters. This was going to be a production like no other, with limitless budget and space!  Once pupils had their concept fixed, they then chose a scene or scenes from the play and started by sketching out a Birds eye view, showing all the thinking behind their ideas.

During the next three weeks, rough sketches were turned into set designs for the chosen scenes. The pupils were able to use any material they could get their hands on to make the walls, floor, furniture, characters and props for their models. Once this stage was complete, it was time to start building!

Mr Martin-Nye revealed the details of the competition and informed pupils that industry expert, Victoria Johnstone, was going to join the process as a guest judge. She would take part in a live Q and A sessions and the pupils were encouraged to start sending in their questions to Victoria. Five lucky pupils joined Victoria for a fabulous question and answer session, discovering more about effective stage setting and what it’s like working in the set and costume design industries.

Victoria said that she had found the entire process extremely interesting and enjoyed viewing the pupils original, innovative, creative and elaborate responses to this challenge.

All the entrants came in for praise and there were special mentions and advise for some of the projects. At the end of this process it was Iona who took first prize but everyone that took part deserves a well done on completing this demanding challenge. It wasn’t Bugsy Malone as we had originally imagined but instead was a myriad of inspirational imagined versions! Well done everyone!