St Peter's School

Taking centre stage

Romeo and Juliet November 2017
Pupils at St Peter’s have been preparing to take part in the nationwide Shakespeare Schools Festival.

Fifth Formers Ava, Benji and Milly are all excited to perform Romeo and Juliet at Leeds’ Carriageworks Theatre, which plays host to some of the country’s premier touring productions in a 350-capacity auditorium.

All agree that the chance to showcase their skills at such venues is an exciting one. Ava, who plays Juliet, says: “Throughout the year we have great fun on a range of school performances, but it’s better still to perform to an audience who aren’t all familiar faces. These kinds of opportunities push you out of your comfort zone and bring out the best in you.”

It is the idea of pushing beyond a comfort zone that captures the spirit of drama at St Peter’s, and indeed the wider arts and co-curricular programme. Last year, an original drama production on the topic of consent proved so impactful that St Peter’s adopted it as part of their PSHE programme, an unprecedented honour for the five pupils involved, four of whom were boarders.

Benji, who plays Lord Capulet, can attest to boarding’s central role in enabling him to make the best of his talents. “I play rugby for both School and York, so there have been times when I’ve turned up to a rehearsal straight after a match” he says, “it’s a big relief knowing that I don’t have to worry about a long journey home after that.”

Romeo & Juliet November 2017
L-R: Milly, Ava and Benji.

Milly, who plays Lady Capulet, is a day pupil, and acknowledges that a journey home after a late rehearsal can be tiring, but is nonetheless positive about preparations for the show. “Though the hours can be long, it’s great that the whole cast pull together and have fun while we’re doing it.”

“We get pizza too”, adds Benji, noting that the hard work is always worth it.

All three cast members are active and busy in school life beyond drama, and Benji, who boards at The Manor, is confident about managing his time. “No matter how busy my day is, I have a set hour and half of prep every night, so I don’t have any worries about getting my work done, and then I’ve got the rest of the evening to relax or go over my lines again.”

Some would be daunted by such a packed schedule of work and co-curricular activities, but for boarders and day pupils alike, this production represents exactly what life at St Peter’s is about: making the most of opportunities to do what you love and do it well.