Thank you to each and every one of you who supported our Years 9 and 10 theatre production, ‘Burying Your Brother in the Pavement’.

After months of blood, sweat and tears, Patrick Wilson (Director), Isa Holland (Assistant Director), Natasha Hobbs (Choreographer), and their stellar cast and backstage crew, presented their fabulous adaptation of the Jack Thorne play in the Hayward Theatre from March 23rd-25th.

Written specifically for young people, ‘Burying Your Brother in the Pavement’ was part of the 2008 National Theatre Connections Festival, and was premiered by youth theatres across the UK. Our show was presented under licence and agreement with Nick Hern Books.

The play tackles the complex themes of grief, sexuality, and family. With a mix of carefully crafted characters, settings and contexts, it challenges the audience to re-think their relationships with those closest to them. Do we know people as we say we do? Should we get to know them more? When someone says they are fine, do they really mean that? Do we make the space for those closest to us to speak openly, truthfully, and confidently?

Written in 2008, these contexts might seem out of date today, but they are still so very relevant. It was only in 2008 that it became illegal to encourage homophobic hatred, and in 2013 when gay marriage was made legal across the UK. The actions that the character, Luke, takes are no less frequent, serious or impactful now than they were in 2008.

‘Burying Your Brother in the Pavement’ is likely to be the last King’s Company production for our Director in Residence, Mr Wilson. Speaking about the play, he said: “This play has been somewhat of a passion project for me from the off. I first read ‘Burying Your Brother in the Pavement’ in Michaelmas 2021, having seen it recommended on Twitter as an under-appreciated school play option. I was captivated by Jack Thorne’s spellbinding, absurd, psychedelic brilliance. I used the opening monologue the following week as part of my Acting Techniques Club. The surreal, somewhat provocative, monologue provided a challenge that the attendees loved, and it stuck with me as a play I knew I wanted to direct; so when it came to the Year 9 and 10 play, I knew it had to be this.

“It is challenging, and there is no denying that. In part, because of the subject matter. It felt important to me on many levels to give platform to a play that focuses on a plethora of important themes – queerness, loss, and mental health, to name a few – all explored through the kaleidoscopic lens of a young mind, giving our students the opportunity to explore real world topics in a safe, creative environment, and in a way intended for young people. The play also grounds itself in a liminal world of gentrification, and has facilitated much discussion on the effect it has on communities. This play has enabled a wealth of discussion and communication, both in rehearsal and in PSHE, and I like to think that our young people are more aware thanks to it.

“But this is ultimately a play, a play that comes at the end of a phenomenal season for the King’s Company, and the cast rose to the acting challenge fantastically. I have loved watching how far each and every cast member has developed in their acting journeys, wherever that may be. We were also lucky enough to have a voluntary art team creating props for us, organised by the inimitable Momo in Year 13. Her team made a lot of the wild and wacky items that people got to see in the performance.

“I also must thank Lucy Walker for composing the original music for the production. Excitingly, the script provided songs but no music, encouraging the company to make their own backing. Luckily, we have a professional composer here at King’s, and she made some absolute ear worm tunes for our delight. Working again with Lucy, after her exceptional work on ‘Medea’, was a delight. A big thanks is due to Isa Holland (Year 12), who was a fantastic Assistant Director. After kindly helping out in the audition, Isa offered to assist me, and I am grateful for it as the help she gave was exceptional, and hopefully a good learning experience also.

“This was likely my final show here at King’s, and I am glad to go out on something so vibrant. Ultimately, I had one last chance to work with some passionate young people, deep diving into character and performance with them, and hopefully they have learnt a thing or two along the way. The cast and crew all have long careers as part of the King’s Company, and I wish them all the best with their future productions.”

The cast was made up of twenty students and backstage featured many more, including Cameron Zaduck (Lighting Operator), Jack Tisi (Sound Operator), and Stage Management (Raphael Bisson, Mara Pintece and Laura Moretti), to name just a few.

Images by Year 13 student, Jessica Harding

Among the hundreds of people who witnessed the production was the Wilde family, whose son, Joseph, is joining King’s Ely as a Year 9 Drama Scholar in September 2023.

The family said: “The production was amazing. The cast interpreted the play extremely well and made it their own, all putting in compelling performances. The performance of the lead, playing Tom, was particularly spellbinding. The sheer passion and charisma of the actors is a real credit to King’s Ely, and demonstrates what an incredible culture the school has for fostering and nurturing real talent. The layout of the theatre is also a credit to the staff supporting the performance. It is clear that King’s Ely understands how to present a top quality play. We certainly look forward to being at future performances!”

Below is a review written by our Year 13 Drama Prefect, Thomas Bateman…

‘Burying Your Brother in the Pavement’ – meaningful, mature, and marvellous.

Patrick Wilson’s directing finale with King’s Company is a very special feat of superb young theatre.

Jack Thorne’s ‘Burying Your Brother in the Pavement’ was written as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival in 2008. The play tells the story of Tom (performed exceptionally by Jemma Basford) after the death of his older brother, Luke (performed with impressive dedication by Robert Reed). Born only ten months apart, Tom is sure that Luke disliked him, and that there were no secrets between the two when he died. Tackling the complexities of grief, family, sexuality, class and forgiveness, the piece is perfect in getting young people talking about the modern world.

Wilson’s thrust stage inventively jigsaw’s out into the calm and intimate theatre setting that seats the audience on small cabaret-style tables. Basford’s spectacular opening monologue holds the audience in the palm of her hand, really connecting with the audience, with a rare maturity seldom seen in such a young performer.

The whole cast own their space outstandingly and embrace the acting challenge of performing the complex themes of this narrative brilliantly. Some standout performances include Misha Kaminskiy as Tight, and Dylan Grisby as David McPhee. Misha proved himself as a grounded, strong actor and Dylan owned his role with brilliant comic talent – two young actors to keep your eyes on!

Rex Brookes as Stan was a favourite of mine – their wonderful presence and energy owned the loud costume impressively. Catherine Raynes and Robert Reed found a very convincing emotional truth as Courtney and Luke, achieving something actors of any age struggle with, let alone in Year 10!

Ivy Trueman proves there is no such thing as a ‘small role’, giving a fantastic dedication to every second on stage. Nelson Cuthbert-Jacques and Rose Tisi gave their all and showed a love for being on stage – I look forward to seeing what is next for them both in their acting careers!

With such a mature and remarkable performance as Tom, it is difficult to praise Basford with the respect her performance deserves. The maturity of all the performances in this play are all the more excellent due to the playful and youthful treatment the cast provided to this challenging narrative.

Aside from the cast, a huge thanks and congratulations to the entire creative and leadership team for putting on an excellent show.

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