West End actress, singer and dancer, Harriet Watson, visited King’s yesterday (Tuesday 16th May) to lead our After School Senior Theatre Masterclass.

The theme of the session for students in Years 9 to 13 was ‘Acting Through Song’, and pupils worked with Harriet both as a group, and individually.

Harriet played alternate Jane Seymour, Catherine Parr, and was Dance Captain in the original UK Tour of SIX (The Musical). By the end of the contract, she had played all six queens, and appeared on Children in Need and West End Live. Before this, she could be found performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in ‘Early Birds’, playing Pauline Quirke. Harriet was also a regular in children’s theatre, playing in London and Rome.

Patrick Wilson, Director in Residence at King’s, said: “Harriet was highly impressed by each and every one of the students who attended the masterclass. Pupils did not just showcase their amazing talents, but also their bravery and mettle to perform in front of a professional musical theatre actor. Mr Pengelly and I were very proud of each and every one of them.”

Earlier this month, we also welcomed Ciaran Forde from professional theatre company, The Paper Birds, into school to work in the Black Box Theatre with our Years 10 and 12 Drama students.

Both groups are currently creating their own performance pieces, and Director of Drama and Theatre at King’s, Oliver Pengelly, explained how the opportunity to learn from professional theatre companies would benefit their performance work.

Mr Pengelly said: “The Paper Birds is one of the country’s leading verbatim theatre companies. The organisation believes in theatre’s ability to ‘give voice to the voiceless’, as well as its power to prompt forceful conversations and affect change. As such, The Paper Birds begin new work by conducting interviews with people they know, speaking to people in their local community, and inviting anonymous submissions via letter or email, and then use the text collected to create an exciting new play.

“Year 12 Drama students are currently drawing inspiration from this approach to create their own piece of theatre that investigates our feelings about climate change and what is often referred to as the climate crisis. Having the opportunity to work with Ciaran was a brilliant opportunity for the students to explore exercises and techniques that The Paper Birds use in rehearsal to bring the verbatim text to life, and explore moments that have dramatic potential.

“Year 10s are also working towards devised examination pieces and it was great to see them unlock new ideas as they were challenged to experiment with creative approaches that were unfamiliar to them. Both sessions looked like a lot of fun, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how the workshops might influence each group’s creative decisions as they work towards the final performances later this term.”

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