It has been said in the past that ‘theatre is one of the best team games ever’. At Rugby it is our intention to continue that tradition of teamwork and discipline and to stretch the creative abilities of both students and audiences as far as possible.
To that end we commit to two ‘big’ productions in the year – one a musical, the other a play. In alternate years we will endeavour to put on a major musical or play, and a minor play or musical. This allows us to have one main production in the year where we can push the boat out and try to put on as professional a production as possible. As a consequence, each student in their School career has the opportunity to take part in a large cast, large scale production which caters for everyone’s particular forte – be it singing, playing in the accompanying orchestra or ‘straight’ acting in a play.
It is of course also essential that an equal importance is put on the technical and back-stage areas to allow those who are less extrovert the possibility of being involved in such experiences. directing, stage managing, lighting, sound, costume, make-up, set design and construction, choreography, props, are all areas just as essential as ‘treading the boards’ and we endeavour to make students fully realise the importance of their vital contribution to the overall success of the performance.
However, it is important to realise that not all productions need to be big-scale extravaganzas. House plays continue to be important evenings in the social calendar and each House has the opportunity to put on a play.
Should we have students interested in staging their own work, then the foyer of the Macready Theatre is developing into a versatile and important venue for such productions.
At the end of the School year, we have our Arts Festival where ‘anything goes’. Have an idea, find a venue, we will put in what technical requirements are needed and away you go!
Students are involved in all aspects of theatre-making in the Macready and are given opportunities to work with our dedicated professional Theatre Technician to develop their creative and technical skills using our state of the art lighting, sound equipment as well managing costumes and stage-managing our shows. The Macready Theatre also operates as a professional receiving house for touring theatre, comedy, dance and a range of other work which gives Rugby School students unique opportunities to engage with professional work ‘on their doorstep’. The School’s annual flagship arts festival The Festival on The Close gives students a platform to perform alongside professional actors, dancers, musicians and comedians as well as engaging in a range of workshops from sports commentating to stand-up comedy.
Scholarships are available for both performers and technical theatre candidates. Our scholars are taught by our expert team of visiting actors, dancers and theatre practitioners. We run regular workshop and other opportunities for our scholars to develop their skills and work closely with leading talent agencies to look after those who are working professionally outside school. Agents are invited to our annual Scholars’ Showcase performance and there are further opportunities to develop skills throughout the year. We encourage senior scholars to join our new writing company which takes a new play, written in collaboration with a young professional playwright each year, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We train our Scholars in workshop leadership skills which means that they are able to deliver weekly drama classes to local primary schools.
A number of students perform professionally and have agents including TV, film and stage roles (recently students have performed at the Barbican in London, on Broadway and have starred in Netflix TV series The Crown, Creeped Out and others).
Several students are also members of the National Youth Theatre and National Youth Music Theatre.