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A level English Trip to ‘The Woman in Black’

On Tuesday 21 November, the A level English students spent the evening in the company of the Woman in Black. The play started playing at the Fortune Theatre in 1989 and has continued to terrify and enthral audiences since. Our students were no exception – many watched through barely open fingers and... it is a shame nobody filmed the moment Brynley jumped out of his skin after a particularly gruesome set piece.

The students are all exploring the Gothic genre, with modern examples all to hard to come by. However, Susan Hill’s 1983 novella, expertly adapted using a variety of meta-theatrical tricks by Stephen Mallatratt, conveys the essence of the genre brilliantly. It was evident that they will have lots to think about, especially as they will now have plenty of sleepless nights to fill…

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The English Department took the A level English students (as well as some budding bards from Year 10) to the Barbican to watch The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘Coriolanus’. The play, forming part of the RSC Rome season, is a set text for Year 12 and 13 and is also covered in Year... 9. With its depiction of the abuse of power, the play has never been more relevant.

The production, directed by Angus Jackson, featured rising star Sope Dirisu as the eponymous hero. Dirisu gave a compelling performance, suggesting the vulnerability that lies beneath Coriolanus’ aggressive behaviour. A particularly bold move was casting the tribunes Sicinius and Brutus as female, giving the play a modern flavour. The other cast members combined to good effect, creating an ensemble that seamlessly merged from outraged Roman citizens to conspiring members of the Roman court.

Above all, the set design was particularly striking – a metal shutter divided the stage into two sections, suggested a divided city at the heart of the play. The final scene saw the stage bathed in a red glow, leading a poignant tone to an effective interpretation of a play of enduring relevance.

It was evident that the students appreciated seeing the play in performance – studying drama takes on a new dimension when seen rather than read, and this was no exception.

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‘Betrayal’ Panel Discussion

English literature A level students were treated to a rare and insightful panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon by two leading actors from the cast of Pinter’s ‘Betrayal’, performed at the Hampton Hill theatre last September 2016. Our headmaster (Robert) invited fellow actor Steve Webb (Jerry)...

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Lecture on North Korean Regime

On Monday evening our Year 12 and 13 history and geography students headed to North London to join the audience at a fascinating panel led discussion on the North Korean regime. The event concluded with a question and answer session, and it was great to see our students involve themselves so enthusiastically.

Staff vs. Students Cricket Matches

On Thursday 6th July, Hampton Court House witnessed a sporting event of such epic proportions that Wimbledon paled in comparison. The ever-enthralling Staff versus Students Cricket Match took on an added layer of grit as the fixture became the inaugural Staff vs. Sixth Form Match.

After choosing to... bowl first, student skipper Haydn Roberts sent down the first over to Graham Ainge and a regular pattern of fours and sixes was established. Graham raced past his half century before showing the kind of charity Haydn is known for and retiring. This brought Caroline Wass to the crease, who displayed remarkable cultural sensitivity in learning the most British of sports. After a roller coaster 15 overs, the staff amassed 196, with Selwyn Leamy ensuring that his last innings as a member of staff was as powerful as his art lessons.

Then it was the Sixth Form’s turn to bat. The first over, delivered by Tom Robson, gave a good indication of the trouble to come. Bob delivered the second over, and it was soon apparent that Hope is a dangerous thing. Three wickets in an over showed how deadly his variations are and the Sixth Form run chase was derailed. Some lusty blows from the lower order breathed some life into the chase and they finished on 100.

It was a fantastic occasion – a wonderful atmosphere and played in good spirits.

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As the country goes to the polls…

HCH students have their chance to vote in a mock general election. The ballot box will be in the main hall with counting due to start at the end of the school day! Results will be declared by tomorrow.

Edmond Gordon Talk

We were very fortunate to welcome Edmund Gordon to Hampton Court House on Monday 22 May 2017. Edmund is a world-renowned author, university lecturer (King’s college) and expert on the writer. He had just returned from a US tour with his new biography ‘The Invention of Angela Carter’. The timing... of this event was serendipitous; a month exactly until the Year 13 English exam on gothic literature. Edmund spent five years researching Angela Carter and admitted that, by the end of this epic project, he felt he knew Carter better than himself! The seminar focused particularly on the exam text ‘The Bloody Chamber’ and a rich contextualisation of Carter’s spectrum of influences from folklore and surrealism to Japanese culture. He emphasised to students the danger of reading Carter along strictly ‘feminist’ or ‘gothic’ lines, highlighting her playfulness and willingness to shock in re-imagining the latent content within fairytales. Unlike many feminists, she considered men and women as fundamentally alike and strove to represent the female voice in its myriad forms. Carter was fascinated by extrapolating symbols of sexuality and death from ancient fairy tales to subvert the status quo. He urged that Carter’s literature should be appreciated as ‘political’ too; though she would have disliked being limited to any narrow genre. Gordon conversed with our students who clearly demonstrated their knowledge and appreciation of Carter’s repertoire. His depth of insight into Carter’s work, personality and penetrating intellect made for a truly enriching talk which enabled our students to gain an illuminating and intimate understanding of this extraordinary writer.

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