WATCH: High school students prepare to take on the Bard

The Gazette took a sneak peak inside the rehearsals for the upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which his being staged at the Alnwick Playhouse this week.

Talented young thespians from Alnwick’s high school are coming together to present a comical and music-filled evening of one of Shakespeare’s most-loved plays.

Students from Duchess's Community High School preparing for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture by Will Larkin

Students from Duchess's Community High School preparing for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture by Will Larkin

For the group of talented young actors, it has been a long three-month rehearsal period, but as Fynn Riseborough, who takes on the part of Oberon, explained, the production’s beginnings started even before that.

“We’ve been rehearsing since the second day back at school and did some workshops in the holidays, but we had to make sure we’d learned our lines before this time because it’s Shakespeare and it’s a lot harder to do,” he said.

“Last year we did Cyrano de Bergarac and a lot of our lines could be easily understood, but with Shakespeare, we had to understand what we were saying ourselves and then we could begin a blocking process.”

The Duchess’s Community High School arts department’s plays and musicals have become very well received over the past few years. However, this is the first time the school has found the courage to perform one of the Bard’s pieces.

Talking about the bold choice, assistant head of English, drama and careers Martin Allenby said: “I think you’ve got a lot to look forward to.

“This is the first show since the school got the Artsmark Gold award, which is a fabulous achievement for everybody who’s been involved with the creative arts for the past 16 years. This production is about trying to live up to that standard, of which we’re very proud.

“Building on Cyrano’s success last year, we’ve decided on a Shakespeare play and set it in the 1920s.

“It’s the first time in the last century that we’ve attempted Shakespeare as a school and obviously there’s a lot of nervousness about how well that will go because it is such a different way of speaking and such a different way of communicating.”

The play features four inter-connecting plots between lovers, fairies and a group of travelling actors.

The high school’s version will have music with actor-musicians to celebrate the creative arts in the school, and each of the different groups, be it fairies, Athenians or mechanicals (an acting troupe), has its own theme and messages. For example, the mechanicals are loosely-based on returning First World War soldiers and the Athenians are based on the upper-classes of the 1920s.

The thespians have taken inspiration from workshops with touring Shakespearian companies and groups who have visited the Alnwick Playhouse, such as the Propeller Theatre Company, which visited the venue in September.

This new production of Shakespeare’s classic can be seen at the Bondgate Within venue from Wednesday, November 4, until Saturday, November 7. In previous years all performances have sold out so booking in advance is advised. Tickets start from £6. Visit to book tickets.