This term a new Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School Sixth Form drama group, Houselights, made their production debut with a performance of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Good Person of Szechwan.’
Drama teacher Adrian Smith said: “Bertolt Brecht’s seminal play is a departure from the traditional school play and was an opportunity to see a different style of performance in a more intimate setting. It was also the debut performance of our new advanced drama ensemble – Houselights.”
The play tells the story of a young prostitute called Shen Te, who offers shelter to two gods who have come down from the Heavens to see if there are any good people left on Earth. They reward Shen Te for her kindness with a bag of silver so that she can start an ‘honest’ life, but very soon the people of Szechwan start to take advantage of Shen Te’s kind heart. Shen Te is forced to create an alter-ego, in the guise of her cousin Shui Ta, who is cruel and selfish. As Shen Te jumps back and forth between her two personas things slowly fall apart.
Mr Smith said: “Houselights was set up with our sixth form to be able to tackle plays which are normally reserved for University or Fringe performances and which cover more adult themes than the traditional school production. We wanted to offer something new and something that would assist our students with the transition into further education. Houselights is the result of that vision.
“The production has been student led – tutor assisted and they all did magnificently. We hope it has set the standard for years to come. Every member of the Houselights team, both on and off the stage, have been an integral part of getting this concept off the ground.
“The audience saw their debut performance, but what they haven’t seen is the camaraderie, the commitment, the way our students have pulled together in the final hours to make this happen. We have been incredibly impressed with how so many of them have stepped up when called on and also the early debuts of two of our year 10 students.”
The school says audience reaction was exceptionally good with many people commenting on the professionalism of the production.
Head of English, Marianne Sutton-Jones said: “It was so great to see our students performing a whole play -not an easy one either. This was really ambitious and the kids clearly stepped up to the challenge. I was amazed at how smooth, funny and well-rehearsed they were and the breaking the fourth wall stuff was great!
“They were all so good individually, but the court scene and the factory scenes were just excellent too. I loved it!”