Drama is very important at Eaton House Belgravia Pre-Prep, with the boys 'treading the boards' for fun, for excitement, and as a nice break from work.
Learning to act a part, memorising speeches, working as a team and adopting and inhabiting different characters are all part of preparing for a play or musical. They are important challenges because they make the boys more confident, more at ease with themselves, and more able to speak in public. These are all wonderful qualities to possess for life.
For those who aspire to take acting a little more seriously, it is in our school heritage. Laurence Olivier, the iconic actor and president of the National Theatre, was an old boy. Recently another Pre-Prep old boy has found fame in Hollywood, earning an Academy Award, amongst many others. He is a household name, but we will preserve his privacy here and you can have fun guessing who he might be!
Pupils love performing in all the productions that we stage, because they are of an exceptionally high standard, complete with lavish professional costumes, production, sound, lighting and technical effects.
Last year, the Year 3 play was What a Knight!, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the parents who came to watch it. One boy wrote a wonderful description of what it was like to act in it.
The last time I’d been in a play was in KG as a shepherd. Merlin in What a Knight! was a bit of a change for me! My favourite part was the scene between Merlin and Watt Cobblers – it was a wonderful feeling to get the audience laughing and clapping.
For the play to come together like this, we had to work really hard as a team and on our own. It was crucial to get our lines absolutely right as if you didn't say the right line then the next person didn't know what to say and the play would get rather muddled. It was our responsibility to learn our words at home and the teachers then helped us to bring the words to life with how to say them, the actions needed and where to stand.
During rehearsals this didn't always happen but that's why you practise! It felt strange going from wearing normal clothes to wearing a costume. I had a beard that was too tickly so we got rid of it and my magician's hat kept falling off, so each time I went on stage I pulled it tight.
I think everybody should have a chance to act. It gives you confidence and, most importantly, you have to work as a team. I will always remember the feeling of pride when all the parents clapped at the end. Most importantly, I was with all of my friends and everybody felt happy at the same time.
There are other productions during the year too, usually within year groups. In addition, the annual Nativity play is always a highlight of the school calendar. Last Christmas, Belgravia Nursery and Kindergarten performed their Christmas Nativity, A King is Born. The narrators led us through an enchanting story of the first Christmas, and there were many laughs as bossy Caesar and his census-takers, the angels, the shepherds and the kings took us all on their journey as they followed the star to the stable.
Drama lessons at school are complemented by well-established and popular Drama Club. There, boys can learn vocal and acting techniques, improve their performance on stage and simply enjoy themselves!