LAMDA at Winchester

3rd April 2020
BY Carson White, pupil

I am always surprised at how good people are at accents. From the perspective of an audience member, they are one of the most powerful techniques because they help us to believe in the character on stage. One of the best things about doing LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art) exams is that you are encouraged to focus for a long time on just one speech. You end up with a living, breathing character at the end of the process.

Over the last few years interest in LAMDA has skyrocketed at Winchester. We have gone from having one teacher to five, and now pupils regularly enter exams for 'Devising Theatre', 'Verse and Prose', 'Shakespeare', and 'Public Speaking', as well as 'Acting'. When I arrived, we had a LAMDA showcase every year at Winchester Match so that boys could perform the pieces that they most enjoyed working on that year. Now that there are so many boys doing LAMDA, we hold monologue evenings every term in the Blackwell Room of Moberly Library.

These showcases give us the chance to show a small audience of peers the characters we’ve been building. It would be a shame if the product of months of work was only seen by your teacher and examiner, especially since all the monologues are so well-crafted. Every time I have been hugely impressed with the performances from throughout the school.

One of the best things about these evenings is seeing the range of works people choose to perform. This time we had a full spectrum from Jez’s hilarious Jerusalem, to the bitingly sarcastic opening of The Best Man Speech, to the disturbingly self-assured Charlie of Private Peaceful, and the final break down of Dr Dysart in Equus. These gatherings are always informal and convivial and the atmosphere on the last Tuesday of term allowed me to be spirited away to a dozen different worlds. I can’t think of a better way to have spent that evening.

Sam Baddeley, Head of Drama, who has led the development of LAMDA at the school, noted: “LAMDA Showcase Evenings are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the talent and achievements of our LAMDA pupils. I am delighted that our actors were able to spend the last (on-site) night of the term listening to each other perform such a range of pieces. The next showcase will be slightly broader in terms of participation: anyone may enter, regardless of whether or not they have LAMDA lessons. It will be an online evening and all members of the school community, including parents, will be welcome to attend and participate”.

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