An outdoor pupil production staged in the round
When Waiting for Godot first opened at the Arts Theatre Club on 5th January 1953, it was not met with universal acclaim. Some were bored, some confused, some left at the interval, some before, but Irish Times critic Vivian Mercier described it as ‘a play where nothing happens twice and yet it keeps the audience glued to its seats.’
Oundle pupil Charlie Rogers’ (17) production not only battled the (at times) bewildering vagaries of Beckett’s most significant work, but also the challenges of outdoor performance. Staged in the round with lonely tree of the School Cloisters as its centre point, a tremendously able cast managed to pull off a remarkable version of the play. Nothing did happen twice and yet despite the autumn chill in the air and the chiming bells of St Peter’s Church, the audience remained glued to their seats whilst two Charlie Chaplin like tramps waited….and waited.
Director Charlie Rogers and Assistant Director Tom Younger (17) took the two central roles of Valdimer and Estragon. Together they made a compelling tragic-comic duo. Their onstage relationship, with all its twists and turns, gave real heart to this elusive piece.
Tom Younger and Charlie Rogers
Oundle’s Stahl Theatre Director Naomi Jones commented, “Their Laurel and Hardy-esq physical comedy showed great skill and precision; impressive for professionals, let alone two boys of just 17.”
Coco Brown (17) was a strangely beguiling but none the less brutal slave master Pozzo alongside Axi Hobil’s (15) much maligned Lucky. His tender portrayal of the character engendered genuine sympathy from the audience whilst Ed Hodgson (14) as the boy communicated an innocence and fragility which gave the play depth and variety.
Naomi concluded, “Charlie Rogers and his impressive cast should be applauded for pulling off such an ambitious production. Staging a Beckett play is a task which most professional directors would be daunted by, but to do this outside with an all-pupil cast is hugely admirable.”
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 which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.
There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 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.