Pupils take to the stage!
Onatti theatre company
The longstanding collaboration between Exeter School’s Modern Languages department and the Onatti Theatre company continued last week with a visit from two Spanish actors, to perform El viejo saloon (The old saloon) to all of the Hispanists in the Lower Fifth form.
This brand-new play was performed entirely in Spanish using the scenery, props, costumes and sound system the actors themselves brought with them, this year transforming the Drama Studio for the afternoon into a Wild West saloon. Recalling the frontier era of the 19th century when many of the southern states of the future USA were parts of the United States of Mexico, the saloon was owned by the rambunctious Dolores and her father, with the bar staffed throughout the 55-minute production by Lauren Cornfield, who played a pivotal role interacting with the myriad of characters passing through the establishment, including assisting with an impending birth.
Iris Mason learned not to play cards with strangers in a dive bar, and Jodie Blackmore and Louis Sadeghi performed the testing task of talent contest judging, as various hopefuls attempted to dance, sing, play the mouth organ and ventriloquise their way to glory.
We were delighted to welcome Onatti director Andrew Bardwell to the school once again, as he joined us to see the play how the play that he wrote had developed since its inception last autumn. We were also thrilled to welcome back Asturian actor Lucía, who has performed previously for Onatti for our pupils, and newcomer Sergio from Barcelona, who among other things navigated his way through Miss Hendrick’s legendary Wednesday lunchtime hospitality for the first time. Stuffing, gravy and chocolate rice pudding may yet make it to Catalonia… The atmosphere in the audience was joyful and fully interactive, and the word of the afternoon was agradecido (grateful), as the actors kept on expressing their thanks for the traditional warm Exeter School welcome, and the way our pupils managed to strike the perfect balance between enthusiastic participation and attentive spectating.
Before the end of term we will welcome not one but two French productions from Onatti in school, and the MFL team has been invited to act as pedagogical consultants for the theatre company as they broaden their offer into new areas for schools in the UK and continental Europe. At a time when MFL teaching is seeing challenging times nationally, the energy and vision of the Onatti theatre company is greatly supportive, and highly refreshing.