Many years ago, in the cloudy and oft forgotten past, a story unfolded. Discovered, by accident, the story of the School Hall Pirates once again echoed through the very hall where it had all began. It was a tale of rebellion, a fight for freedom, which was held up by an idealistic crew of school boys who believed they could create change. And perhaps find some treasure along the way, because real pirates have to have treasure!
After many weeks of rehearsals the boys of the St Benedict’s Preparatory took on the unruly role of schoolboy pirates and performed in the play School Hall Pirates. The play developed from a question of ‘what if?’. What if school children decided that they wanted change; would they be able to come together and set in motion a movement that could achieve something or would it descend into a Lord of the Flies style anarchy? Written by C. Couperthwaite, and inspired partly by the #FeesMustFall movement, School Hall Pirates tries to consider this question.
The play follows Marco (Jonathan Haddow) who, fed up with the current system in the school, calls the students to mutiny, captures the hall and takes a teacher Hostage. In the beginning the boys stand united as one, planning demands to be delivered to the headmaster and even setting out to find a valuable treasure hidden by the founders of the school, despite some scepticism that it even exists. Discontent sets in when Marco starts acting very much like the teachers the boys are rebelling against in the first place, sending boys on errands and even forcing the grade 4’s to clean the hall. Eventually Terry (Hugo Marques) leads a breakaway group to bring focus back to what the whole rebellion was originally about; freedom from the tyranny of the school, unity amongst students, shorter days and no more homework! In a final, symbolic act Marco and his crew of miscreants leave the hall to steal the school statue creating an opportunity for Terry and his crew to capture it themselves. Just before the boys can fight for control of the hall they are interrupted by the school security and Terry and Marco are taken away. In a concluding act, Rory (Priyesh Lal Beharie), who had been ignored by the others, returns to the hall having found the treasure but discovers too late that everyone has already been taken away.
The play was set in a naturalistic way, unfolding in the school hall and performed in the school hall with the seating set back onto the stage. A brief window was occasionally given to the world outside through the use of a shadow screen and the headmaster addressing the boys from outside the hall.
The actors took well to their parts and put on three very convincing performances that are a testament to the calibre of cultural student that the school is able to produce. The cast of twenty four started working in January this year, played many hours of ‘Captain’, and by the final performance had made the piece their own, achieving a naturalness to their characters and dialogue which made for a successful show.