A Level Drama Workshop and trip to see ‘All My Sons’

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Year 12 and 13 Drama Students, enjoyed a trip to Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 6th October to see ‘All My Sons’ by Arthur Miller. Students have been studying Realism and Naturalism in Drama and we welcomed experienced director, Alix Manning to run a workshop with the students prior to our visit so that they could experience some rehearsal techniques used by the actors. Alix began with some relaxation and imagination techniques before asking the students to improvise reactions to reading a letter which revealed a secret (a key moment in the play, ‘All my Sons’). The students were encouraged to use their instincts and respond to each other’s intentions and created some excellent moments of tension. They then began to explore some of the character relationships in the play before approaching the text where the script was brought to life with some innovative interpretations.

It was great to then see the play in action and witness superb, highly realistic and emotive performances. As we arrived into the theatre, we were surprised by the minimalist but symbolic set which greeted us. Set in 1940s suburban America, the play tells the story of the Keller family, Joe the father is a businessman whose wife struggles to come to terms with the loss of one of their sons who went missing in the war. An unexpected visitor arrives forcing the family to confront some hidden truths as a web of deception is unravelled.

Having found the first half a little static, the second half of the play was worth the wait, the acting particularly by Sean Chapman who played Joe Keller, was entirely believable and we felt the anguish of the character as we were hooked on the developments of the plot. A number of students commented on the amount of tissues the cast must have gone through as they wiped the tears away for their final bows. The play was a prime example of how the actors used Naturalistic techniques to create entirely believable characters, carrying the play through their delivery and reactions without relying on set, props and technical effects. Although not the most exciting piece of drama the students have seen, they have learned a lot about this acting style and appreciate how difficult yet effective it can be to execute.

Jessica Monk

Head of Drama