Audiences were enthralled and delighted by the Upper School production of Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings, which took place on 6-8 March 2019. This thought-provoking and clever play told the story of the first women at Girton College, Cambridge, and their fight to have their education recognised in the same way as their male counterparts.
The cast (26 actors) gave dynamic and sparkling performances both as the women and male protagonists in the play. Their professionalism and dedication to their roles was commendable – numerous weekends and too many nights to count were dedicated to learning about these inspirational women and paying justice to their cause. The hard work completely paid off; dynamic, confident women are a regular feature at Farnborough Hill but the performances of these young actors took those characteristics to the next level.
The Theatre on the Hill was transformed with a magnificent set of imposing white flats to present Girton College; this, combined with bleached wooden floorboards and a cobble-stone pathway presented audiences with a flavour of one of the world’s most iconic and famous places of learning: Cambridge University.
Director, Mrs Helen de Mattos, said that when first researching the play, she had been inspired by the set used at the professional premiere of the play, The Globe, 2013, for its simplicity and elegance. Mrs Rosie Byrne (Head of Art) also researched the architecture at Girton College and together with Miss Camilla Lawson and Mrs Beverley Routledge added some truly exquisite touches. The production had an abstract feel and where possible blocks were built to create spaces and levels around which this pacey story unfolded. The brilliant use of projections through the archway at Girton added an extra dimension to the set: lighting, sound, special effects and set construction had all been brought together under the confident and careful direction of producer, Mrs Laura Evans-Jones.
Many audience members were moved by the story and commented that they completely forgot they were watching a school production. All said and done, the director is keen to point out that this production only came about through a monumental team effort. The crew (19) had been superbly drilled by Miss Polly White; props - perfectly chosen and placed under the beady eye of Mrs Ludivine Fitzwater; costumes expertly put together by Dr Jo Russell and hair & make-up superbly managed by Miss Dee Andrews. Once these things are in place, then ‘the play begins to lift-off and the real excitement and energy begins to rise’ said Mrs de Mattos.
Mrs Alexandra Neil was blown away by the impact of the story. She said that this play was ‘for today’ and that the messages and themes were totally apposite for a girls’ school and their education.
Many congratulations girls; you really brought it home!