DNA – THE FAULKNER’S PLAY AND SUMMER TERM PLANS
Written in 2008, the play DNA by Dennis Kelly has rightly become regarded as a modern classic, especially among teenage audiences.
Originally written by Kelly for the National Theatre’s Connections scheme, the play tells of a group of teenagers whose bullying of another student goes too far and they are left having to cover up a murder.
The play addresses society’s response to cruelty, bullying, peer pressure and pack mentality. The play asks the audience to consider if these behaviours are societal and learned or are they inherent in us all?
There can be no doubt that these are complex and mature themes for our Faulkner’s pupils to consider, but it was felt by director Leah Rees that very often we underestimate the youngest members of the Bradfield community and she was certain they would rise to the considerable challenge of putting on this difficult play.
For those that saw it across its three performances, there can be no doubt she was right. A cast of twenty pupils were able to hold the audience’s attention from the dramatic opening scene to the surprise ending, building tension and suspense throughout. It would be disingenuous to single out any cast member in particular as the strength of the production lay in its ensemble nature. There were compelling performances from many of the young cast and I am certain we will see many of them playing significant roles in the senior school productions as they progress through the College.
Staged against a striking photographic cyclorama of a mysterious wood and utilising only a few logs, tree stumps and a scattering of dead leaves, the production had an almost claustrophobic feel as the audience felt as trapped as the characters as they wrestled with what they had done. A particularly striking moment occurred when a distorted lullaby was played and the Old Gym became a truly nightmarish place.
Speaking of the production, her last at Bradfield, Leah Rees said, “DNA is a difficult play that asks some difficult questions, but it’s been a real pleasure to work with this cast. They’ve approached rehearsals in a disciplined and mature manner and I look forward to coming back to Bradfield in the coming years to see many of them in future productions. I am proud of all of them and pleased to be leaving the school with such a polished and professional looking production.”
The Faulkner’s production is the second of Bradfield’s three major productions – the first being the Michaelmas production and the third being the Summer production in the Greek Theatre. Following the successes of Yerma and DNA, the plan had been to stage a contemporary production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors this summer, under the direction of our Head of LAMDA, Ben Ashton. However, due to the current pandemic that production will have to wait, but co-curricular drama at Bradfield will continue in the Summer Term. This year, under the direction of our Head of Drama Nic Saunders, Bradfield pupils will be working on smaller, intimate performances for our new remote world.
In 2016, the nation celebrated 400 years of Shakespeare and to mark the occasion, The Guardian newspaper teamed up with some of Britain’s best actors to produce a video series of some of his greatest speeches in a series they called Shakespeare Solos.
We are going to do something similar, but with a community twist. Inspired by the videos of celebrities singing together, or musicians collaborating on pieces of music, Bradfield pupils will follow their lead and produce a video series featuring performances of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches. The finished videos will be montages of pupils delivering a single speech with the aim of uploading a new speech each week to the website and Twitter feed for the entire Bradfield community to enjoy.