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Three nights, 17 plays, and just two weeks of rehearsal – Sixth Form Festival showcases female writers
10 November 2023

To celebrate 50 years of girls at Westminster, the 2023 Sixth Form Festival culminated in an evening of scenes from plays exclusively by female playwrights.

In a grand celebration of girls having been pupils at Westminster since 1972, the annual Sixth Form Festival took the spotlight with captivating dramatic plays, with over 50 pupils pouring their hearts into a great variety of performances.

The journey leading up to this event was no less than impressive, with pupils having just two weeks of rigorous rehearsal cumulating in three nights of performances in October.

This ambitious production brought together talented pupils from both Westminster and Harris Westminster Sixth Form, who presented a broad range of emotions, stories, and themes throughout. One of the festivals unique features was the chronological arrangement of scenes, beginning in the 13th century BCE and progressing all the way to 2030. This historic journey allowed the audience to not only witness the evolution of theatrical styles, but also witness an eclectic smorgasbord of genres, from comedies to tragedies, to naturalism to expressionism, and from the post-modern to the absurd.

The hard work and dedication from each pupil were evident in each scene, and their commitment to bringing the performances to life was truly inspiring. This year’s sixth form festival truly showcased the inclusivity and diversity that has thrived in Westminster School over the last five decades.

Pupils and teachers alike reflected on the Festival.

Giulio, (Sixth Form, HH), said: “Taking part in the Sixth Form Drama Festival was a rewarding and wonderful experience from the first rehearsal to the final performance. Immersing myself in a new activity and making new friendships along the way, I had an undeniably great time. I’d definitely recommend it to future years – ask anyone who took part and I’m sure they would too.”

Lane (Sixth Form, AHH): “Coming into the Sixth Form Festival as someone who doesn’t do drama, I felt intimidated. To my surprise, the second I walked into the first rehearsal I fit right into this fun, determined community. Everyone was welcome no matter their previous experience and it was such a great opportunity to make friends and be able to perform these brilliant plays celebrating female playwrights.”

Alex (Sixth Form, DD): “Amid the chaos of starting Sixth Form, I decided to take part in the annual Festival, and it did not disappoint. Having not done anything similar before, I was daunted by the prospect of performing in front of my peers, yet through their support and the occasional poker game, the experience flew by and ended with a fabulous set of performances. As the show came together, there was an incredible sense of unity among the cast, and we came to know each other’s scenes as well as our own.”

Harold (Sixth Form, WW): “Once again, the Sixth Form Festival was an incredible entrée to a new year of drama at Westminster. Performers of Sixth Forms past had left big boots to fill, but our amazingly talented and dedicated cast and crew pulled through this year to create yet another wonderful production that every single person involved in the production should be proud of.”

Chris Whyld, Director of Drama, said: “The rehearsal and performance process was a wonderful opportunity for the new Sixth Form to get to know each other, be creative, collaborate and work together with the common aim of providing an evening of thought-provoking and entertaining theatre.”

Dr Gary Savage, Head Master: “This year’s Sixth Form Festival took the lucky audience on an astonishing journey – and we loved every minute. From powerful solos, subtle two-handers, to complex ensemble pieces, there was something for everyone to enjoy, both in terms of form and content – comedy, horror, love and death. Quite something by any standard – quite incredible when you remember the cast had had only four weeks to rehearse, and indeed to get to know one another. So well done them, and hats off to Mr Wylde and the Drama Department for producing something so memorable, and so enjoyable, to celebrate 50 years of women at Westminster. Bravo!

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