Wednesday, 8 August 2012

All the world’s a stage...

Godolphin plays

As I’ve mentioned before, drama performances have been a huge part of Godolphin School right through its history, and remain so today. As I organised the items to do with plays - programmes, manuscripts, tickets, posters, costume designs, producers notes etc - I came across a lot of material surrounding the two plays written especially for the 200th and 250th anniversary of the school.
1926 Bicentenary Play
1976 Anniversary play
One of the plays was simply known as The Bicentenary Play by Molly Harrower (an Old Godolphin). And the other written by Richard Shepherd and Jennifer Curry was called ‘Where There’s A Will’ – a rather clever pun playing on the fact that it was Elizabeth Godolphin’s will that allowed for the founding of the school. And also of course it’s a  title that highlights the school’s historical emphasis on striving to do one’s best and reach for one’s goals –something that has resulted in so many girls going on to be very successful. 
The programme for the 1926 production
The 1956 revival of the Bicentenary play
The Bicentenary Play had a revival in the 1940s and in 1956 too. Each time the programme was of course remade. The play follows the seeds of the institution sowed by the Godolphin family ending with actual events from the early years of the life of the established school. 

In 1926 Miss Evelyn-Smith was a teacher at Godolphin School. The archive holds lots of items that belonged to Miss E-S. One of the most fascinating I think, is this ‘Play book'.
Miss E-S was responsible for all costumes for the Bicentenary Play – as the programme will tell you! Inside this book she kept all sorts of notes about who needed what, where it was coming from and even more importantly where it needed to be returned! 

Citizen House that Miss E-S mentions a lot here was a costume hire shop and an advert for their services still survives in the archive collection.
This piece of paper is a cast list, found inside Miss E-S’ ‘play book’. She has annotated it with places that will provide the relevant costumes.

Where There’s A Will...

The original manuscript for this play (and the music to go with it) is contained in the Godolphin collection. This is of particular interest because all of Richard Shepherd’ original annotations to the script can be seen.
All the songs have been recorded onto a tape which is also held in the archives... I haven’t yet got around to playing it. Finding a tape player is easier said than done!

This play, unlike the older one, focuses more on events  at Godolphin School rather than how it came to be founded. Perhaps the reason it was felt a new play should be created was because there were many events since 1926 that shaped Godolphin. Including the WWII, which moulded many girls’ lives at Godolphin. 
 Elizabeth Godolphin still plays an important role in this play, as with the earlier one. Whereas the 1926 play closed after the very early events of the school, the 1976 play features other legends of Godolphin history such as headmistress Mary Alice Douglas (known as the second founder of the school).
The success of Where There’s A Will was celebrated in the local press...
There is such a range of material in the archive surrounding these plays. It gives us a great idea of the hustle and bustle of organisation and excitement that surrounded these productions. I wonder if Godolphin will ever revive the 1976 anniversary play?!