Senior Headmaster's Blog: The Value of Drama

Last week we were privileged to be able to stage the excellent Goodnight Mister Tom. My congratulations to all of the cast and crew, and particularly to Melanie Donaldson, who put the whole show together, and to Howard Smith, who was responsible for the remarkable stage. It reminded me of the value of Drama, in allowing people to work together as a team, in particular working across the different year groups.

The play was challenging in that it dealt with some heavyweight topics, in World War II, abusive parenting, adoption and death, but the characters were able to deliver the story with warmth and humour as well, and ultimately a happy ending, at least for Mister Tom, and young William. Some drama allows us to escape from reality, but this is a piece that compelled us to confront some difficult realities along the way, but I was really pleased to see the way in which the two casts coped with these challenges.

The play begins with William being evacuated from London just before the outbreak of WWII, and this reminded us of the evacuation of the whole of Felsted School to Herefordshire in 1940. The school continued to operate for five years away from Essex, and a whole generation of Felstedians enjoyed a very different education as a result. 

The old stately home, Goodrich Court, was almost entirely demolished in 1949-50, but some pictures from the time remain, and the programme for Goodnight Mister Tom contained extracts from the Felstedian magazine of the day, detailing the process of moving a whole school across the country During the war, Felsted was then used as a base for military training, before the school returned at the end of the conflict. Of course, in over 450 years as a school, there are many interesting historical times, but the evacuation of an entire school is among the most fascinating.

This weekend brings an exeat, and a chance for students to catch breath before the end of term races up to us. Of course, for those with Mock Exams in Year 11, there will inevitably be revision to be done this weekend, and others might have work to complete as well. However, this does not prevent a couple of early nights, or a lie in, to help to recharge the batteries before the last weeks of term. The very best performance does require good nutrition, proper rest, exercise and a focus on wellbeing.

Have a very good weekend,

Chris Townsend


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