My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
In 1990 when the school had about 40 children, and we were in two small terrace houses on Falcon St, one of our teachers Roslyn Dunn – had a hair-brained idea for her six 5th and 6th class children.
To spice up the recitations that the children were regularly asked to memorise and present, she decided to take a bit of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, make some simple costumes, and get the children up on the stage of the Police Boys Club next door, to perform for the school and parents.
From these humble beginnings the John Colet School Annual Shakespeare Festival was born.
Since then, by my calculation the individual classes have presented over 300 performances of Shakespeare. There have been productions of again by my calculation twenty-four of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays. A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been done most, while Two Gentlemen of Verona has only been performed once.
John Bell is the patron of our Festival, and has expressed on more than one occasion his amazement and delight and admiration for the children and the school for the commitment to Shakespeare.
Most importantly every single student of John Colet School has received their role, learnt their lines, rehearsed their part and has been on stage performing. These children now number in their hundreds.
Thursday night marked the final performance of this year’s Shakespeare Festival. It was a triumph from the first Infants performance in August, to the final line of 6th class’s excellent As You Like It. My admiration and respect for the children and everyone else involved is boundless.
The 2014 Shakespeare Festival was also my final one in my present role.
I should like to repeat what I said at the theatre to all the faithful parents and grandparents and siblings and friends who, over twenty-five years have come to see the plays; to all the teachers who teetered on the brink of a nervous breakdown to prepare the children; and to all the children who learnt their lines, gave their best, and overcame both fear and triumph.
To everyone who made this a brilliant and unique jewel in the crown of the school, from the bottom of my heart:
Read a 6th class student’s speech to Mr Mane here
Read a 6th class student’s speech to Ms Emanuel, our drama coach, here