Review: Grimm's Tales

Senior Performances

"Last week Ms Hadzis and I had the privilege of turning the Assembly Hall into a Theatrical space for our Lower School Production.

Since September we had been working with the very talented young cast to rehearse our production of Grimm Tales. The Hall was turned into a timeless and magical setting and the audience entered facing the inside of an old house, that appeared as though “no-one’s lived here for years”.

As the cast entered we wanted to lull the audience into a false sense of security from the overly chipper and recognisable overture of Disney’s Cinderella. As the sweet music began to change and eerie undertones of discord and howling wind played underneath, we got a sense that these stories would be Grimm by name and grim by nature.

Grimm's Tales - Churcher's College

The actors created a powerful and memorable moment at the start when suddenly a gust of wind blew them to the side of the stage with an umbrella rising and catching the wind. Not only did this show the cast had considerable physical control, but it also seemed to catch the attention of the audience and introduced us to a recurring concept that we should expect the unexpected - and expect umbrellas!

Reading from the programme the audience learned that this wasn’t just a selection of fairytales, but also about characters lost in a forest, looking for their stories, all existing but not finding the right path for their journey. So we began in an old abandoned house. Grimm’s removals were ready for a day of work when suddenly Ashputtel appeared as she was “supposed to be going to the ball…”

From this moment the cast, with the help of Grimm’s removals, brought to life five famous tales; Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, Ashputtel, Snow White and Little Red Cap.

In each story there was a chorus of actors who made the tales come alive using an array of Theatrical techniques, some more obscure than others!  Each member of the cast had their moment to shine, to become their character and tell their tale, but what felt special about Grimm’s was that it was never about the individual. Yes, there were some fantastic performances from many individual actors, too many to mention, but what was more important was the feeling of how they all combined to perform as a company. The actors took the concept seriously and whether they were playing a sinister witch, a dying Mother or a big bad wolf, they played that role with just as much commitment as when they were a twig passer, a wild boar or an announcer of the feast. 

Grimm's Tales

To create an ensemble piece such as this takes real talent, enthusiasm and focus and the students of this production had this in abundance. As Directors, we thoroughly enjoyed directing and rehearsing with this vibrant and imaginative cast.

In every fairytale we wanted to create a little bit of magic. All the technical elements came together to take us to this make-believe land and the audience certainly got on board, seeming ready to accept the non-naturalistic techniques embraced by the cast and crew. Performing Arts Technical Manager Chris Pellet’s staging ensured there were surprises throughout - Pneumatics meant characters could escape unnoticed, jump out suddenly, or in Rumpelstiltskin’s case be ripped in two, his body fell through one trap door with his leg and arm appearing out of another!


In addition, Chris’s lighting design took us wherever we needed to go - from the edge of a forest to a royal feast and always adding to the mood and atmosphere. Audio Visual/Drama Technician Nathan Etherington added some well timed sound effects and music too, which became a natural part of the stories, adding to our enjoyment and furthering our belief in the illusion on stage.

The set, at first may have looked like a Bric a Brac stall, but every item was placed deliberately and used throughout. Gloves became birds; fabric became beds, rivers and glass tombs; balloons became trees and lentils; and the aforementioned umbrellas became everything else in between.

We were so pleased with how well the cast experimented and adapted to this new way of working and by the end ducks were quacking and doves, ravens and all kinds of birds were flying around the room with beauty and elegance under the safe control of the fabulous cast!

Grimm's Tales

Before opening night we hoped we had a good show, we knew there was lots of talent and some magical moments, but equally we were aware of the niggly holes, the sections that felt unfinished or just not quite ready. It’s amazing how somewhere the fabulous students of Churcher’s College find their extra 10%, they fill in the gaps and their energy brings the missing piece.

During the first night the cast surprised and impressed us all. They brought out new dimensions to their characters, created moments of comedy when we didn’t even realise it was possible.

The hardest part of being a director is that opening night when you suddenly realise you can’t help anymore. You have to just sit down, watch and hope you’ve done enough. So we let go and watched and just like the birds, the cast found their wings and took flight. And what a flight it was! I hope they are all truly proud of themselves - as we are of them!"

Ms Northey

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Review: Grimm's Tales