As December 2016 drew to a close, our activities at The Little Duke once again gave me cause to reflect on the value of our little theatre venue. Small as it is, it is a playing space in which the students can feel safe, and consequently become very confident in performance. Although the maintenance of the theatre does stretch our resources to the limit, its value to students cannot be overstated as performance is such an integral part of our training.
In November we saw our Stage 4 students, directed by Will Guppy, take on a challenging piece of drama, The Cagebirds, and perform it with disciple, high focus, professionalism and excellence. Equally challenging and thought-provoking was the Stage 3’s production of Us and Them, also directed by Will. Both plays have heightened and developed the skills of these students, taking them to another level, and we are all so proud of them for rising to the challenge and accomplishing so much with these plays.
Our policy, for the last nineteen years now, has been to include in our yearly curriculum the time for students to be coached for and to take speech and drama exams through The Royal Irish Academy. Time and again we see how the Academy’s syllabus for the grade exams guide and lead students towards the acquisition of very specific skills, such as public speaking, presentation and a deepened awareness and understanding of inter-personal relations. During the first week of December this year our Stage 2 students took part in the exams. Thanks to the professionalism and experience of the examiner, they all had good experiences. As expected, they have also achieved extremely successful results. We have now begun work with our Stage 3 and 4 students, many of whom are now taking the highest grade exams which will take place at the beginning of March.
Our Stage 1 students delighted us also during the first week of December with their annual Christmas show. This year, Santa’s Sleepy Christmas Eve had many parents smiling as well as applauding!
In November The Little Duke’s Am Dram Soc gave us their first production – Odd Couples, skilfully directed by John Kelly. It was a witty, direct and very professional production, much enjoyed by its audiences.
The year at the theatre came to an end with Imelda McClory’s Snowflake Story, written and performed by Sarah Guppy. It is a beautiful and mindful piece of writing and theatre and audiences enjoyed it very much.
As many of you know, this year is our 20th Anniversary at The Little Duke. Plans to create a celebratory show are under way and we’ll tell you more about them in the new term. Classes begin again on Thursday 12th January. Kerry, Danielle, Susie, JJ, Sarah and Will, and myself, all wish you a great 2017 at the Little Duke Theatre.