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 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.
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.
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.”
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
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
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:
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.
Information on Oundle School
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,
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.