Playwrite drops in to coach Haverhill students

'Ryan Abbott, Alice Iron and Nidhuna Sabu (on the floor) in Too much punch for Judy
'Ryan Abbott, Alice Iron and Nidhuna Sabu (on the floor) in Too much punch for Judy

Year 11 Samuel Ward Academy GCSE drama students performed a moving play last week before being joined by its writer for a coaching session.

The students were preparing a version of Mark Wheeller’s play ‘Too much punch for Judy’,a sensitive story about Jo and Judy, two sisters from Epping who were involved in a tragic car crash.

The piece was originally conceived as a mock performance exam but the students went way beyond that in terms of quality and enjoyment.

It was performed admirably by the entire cast who showed maturity, dedication and passion over the last three months.

The general style of the performance was very stylised and overall process of creation was fairly complicated.

The ‘Crash’ for example was devised entirely by the students who even took inspiration from physical theatre experts’ Frantic assembly and DV8.

The scene was very successful and was performed impeccably by the students.

Some scenes required the upmost concentration from the cast and worked incredibly hard with the director to bring it up to a highly believable level.

Being a true story, students were fascinated to learn that the actual dialogue they were speaking was almost an exact transcript from the interviews playwright Mark Wheeller conducted with Judy, Jo Duncan and PC Caten during the process of writing the play.

Knowing this, the students were able to make connections with their own lives and the accounts of others in order to bring the characters to life.

The Year 11 cast then received a visit from writer of the play, Mark Wheeler.

He coached the students on performance techniques as well as offering them a chance to ask questions and learn about the processes that takes place between script and performance.

A wonderful opportunity for both student and audience. The student’s performance was classed as being “superb” by playwright Mark who came in to watch them on Monday.

Mark contacted Mr Russell the following day and said that he “genuinely enjoyed the whole day” and that “the students were very responsive”.

Mark said that he would love to come back to Samuel Ward next year to work with more students if the opportunity arrives.

Students were able to gain an outstanding knowledge of the content from the play and communication between the director/students was excellent as well as the communication between the cast as a unit.