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World Premiere of ‘In the Shadow of Wings’
13th April 2015

 A play written by an Old Oundelian about an Old Oundelian and performed by current Oundelians.

On 5th March, In the Shadow of Wings by Eddie Elks had its world premiere at Oundle’s Stahl Theatre. The piece, which was commissioned by Oundle School as part of its WWI Centenary Commemorations, celebrated the life of arguably Oundle’s most famous old boy, Cecil Lewis. 
 
Cecil Arthur Lewis was a pupil at Oundle from 1912-1916. He and best friend Maynard Greville wrote to the Royal Flying Corps aged just 16, lying about their age in the hope of getting a commission. The boys were accepted aged 17 and by 18, Lewis was flying dangerous reconnaissance missions as part of the battle of the Somme. Lewis flew throughout WWI, became an Ace and was awarded the Military Cross for ‘continuous acts of bravery’.
  
This original work was brilliantly written by Eddie Elks – also a former pupil of the School and performed by a talented ensemble of current pupils. 

Head of Drama, Matt Burlington commented, This was a truly epic production of an epic story. Thanks to the Theatre Manager Reb Desmond’s inspirational design, we were transported from the dormitories and classrooms of Oundle School to the front lines in France – and from the banks of the Thames to blue skies above high clouds.

George Smale (17) showed true class in the role of Lewis himself and his performance was something of a tour-de-force, showing warmth and genuine humanity in his realisation of a role spanning the defining years of a young man’s life. This performance would have counted for nothing however without such a brilliant supporting cast. The relationship between Lewis and Pip, played by Hugo Beazley (17) was particularly poignant. There were also a range of delightful cameo appearances and the whole cast created not only an enormous sense of adventure, but also reflected the youth and vitality of Lewis’ early life. The play was made all the more poignant for the fact that many of the pupils involved were the same age as Lewis when he first took to the skies over Northern France.

George commented, “Being cast as Cecil Lewis in the play was truly an honour. Elks’s beautifully crafted script really embodied the contrast between fresh-faced youth and the tragedy of war, and I was fortunate enough to have played the part of a man who, through compassion, humour and courage, will rightly be remembered at Oundle for a long time. To play an Old Oundelian was a thrilling, and obviously rare, experience and rehearsing scenes involving the Chapel, School House and the Fives courts really made me reflect on my own time here as well as that of Cecil.

I have relished working in such a creative and collaborative environment with such a talented cast and crew, and I feel like everyone really flourished under the dynamic direction of the Stahl’s Director, Naomi Jones.

In my five years at Oundle, I have immersed myself in life at the Stahl and have been lucky enough to have been given the chance to play a multitude of roles. I am so happy that my last School production has been as unique, enjoyable and successful as this production has been. Thank you to everyone involved in the Stahl for my five brilliant years here, it has truly been my home from home at Oundle and I hope to grace the stage again one day as a visiting actor.”

Matt added, “The presence of the female chorus was a beautifully creative touch, providing a counterpoint to the otherwise male dominated officers’ Mess. They were the ever present voice of Lewis’ dreams and ambitions and their live singing created some emotional and mesmerising moments of theatre. This was storytelling of the highest order and director Naomi Jones provided audiences with an unforgettable, spell-binding evening.”

Theatre Director, Naomi Jones, “It was an absolute pleasure to work with this highly skilled ensemble of young actors on a new play with such a strong connection to the School.  It is very special that the Stahl was able to contribute to the School’s WW1 commemorations in this way and I feel honoured that my first production in Oundle was one of such significance”

 

 

 

Cecil Arthur Lewis - was a pupil at Oundle from 1913-1916.  Lewis flew throughout WW1.  He became an Ace and was awarded the Military Cross for ‘continuous acts of bravery.’ Following his amazing contribution to the War, Lewis went on to co-found the BBC and to write many books including Sagittarius Rising from which they play takes its inspiration. He also won an Oscar for his screen adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.   Shaw wrote of Lewis, “This prince of pilots has had a charmed life in every sense of the word. He is a thinker, a master of words and a bit of a poet.”

Eddie Elks – Playwright - Eddie Elks is a Writer/Actor from Derby. He is Artistic Director of Third Man Theatre.

Recent Writing Credits include:

Botallack O’Clock by Eddie Elks.

A black comedy based on the life and death of the artist Roger Hilton CBE, which was shortlisted for Time Out’s Best Fringe Show 2011 and transferred to New York as part of the Brits Off Broadway Season 2013.

Stalag Happy by Eddie Elks and Dan Frost.

Based on the true story of the artists Sir Terry Frost and Adrian Heath whilst interned the German PoW Camp Stalag 383. It won a Spirit of the Fringe Award in 2009 at the Edinburgh Festival. Toured all over the UK. Due to return this year as part of Sir Terry Frost Centenary Commemerative Exhibitons at Tate St. Ives/ Leeds Gallery/ Leamington Galleries.

Mugs' Arrow by Eddie Elks

A black comedy set in a pub. About to embark on a UK Tour in Spring 2015.

Recent TV Roles include: Game of Thrones (HBO), Crossing Lines (NBC), Vikings (History Channel), The Bible (History Channel), Holby City (BBC), Voyages of Discovery (BBC).

Naomi Jones - Director

In the Shadow of Wings was Naomi’s first production as Director of the Stahl Theatre.  Naomi was previously an associate director of Eastern Angles for whom she directed two large-scale, site-specific community theatre projects in Peterborough; Dark Earth and River Lane. She also directed and number of touring productions for the company including; Private Resistance, Long Way Home and Return to Akenfield.  Naomi has taught and directed at a number of the country’s’ leading drama schools including Mountview, Royal Academy of Music, LAMDA and Oxford School of Drama. Naomi started her career in the professional theatre as the assistant director at Out of Joint. She worked with director Max Stafford-Clark on number productions including Permanent Way by David Hare, O Go My Man & Duck by Stella Feehily, Talking to Terrorists by Robin Soans and an international tour of Macbeth.  

 

Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.

 

The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.

 

At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015. 

 

There are currently 1100 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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