School drama heralded ‘challenging and thought provoking’

A HIGH school Christmas drama featured a ‘mysterious guide’ who turned out to be former student Sophie Lancaster, who was murdered in 2007.

When Head of Drama at Haslingden High School Andy Anderson decided to write Sophie into the production of The Lodge, he first sought permission from her mum Sylvia Lancaster and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

Andy said: “As has become somewhat of a tradition, our Christmas drama was made up of two very different short plays, written by the drama staff and linked by a character, theme or idea.

“This year’s production told the story of two very different families, each of whom had won a mysterious luxury staycation at ‘the lodge’ – a holiday woodland retreat not too far from here.

“On arrival however, both sets of guests don’t quite get the experience they were expecting and end up finding out a lot more about each other as a consequence.”

The first half was performed by 38 students from the lower school while 34 from the upper school were on stage after the interval. Five Year 10 students were stage managers for the production which was staged over three nights.

In August 2007 Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Rob Maltby were set upon in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, because they were dressed differently to their teenage attackers; 13 days later Sophie died from her injuries.

Sylvia attended one of the performances with her son Adam and wrote to the school to praise the production.

She wrote: “You should all be congratulated, the scripts were perfect and the actors, the crew and the entire production team were amazing.

“I imagine there will be a number of students who will pursue a career in drama after seeing the talent on the night. I can’t praise them highly enough – you were all fantastic. Well done.

“Thank you for including Sophie in the play and helping to share her story. We will continue in our work to spread the message that we all need to celebrate who we are, whilst remembering to show kindness to people who are different to us.”

Staff and students worked since September to put the production together.

Drama teachers Jade Brady and Liz Anthony set the scene in the first half introducing the two families – the impoverished Jones’ and the wealthy Boulechiens.

After the interval things took a darker, more supernatural turn as the drama followed a dysfunctional teenage protagonist into the woods, where, with the help of a mysterious guide – Sophie – she found out what really matters and not just at Christmas, but in her whole life.

The school has been inundated with positive feedback including an email from Governor Michelle Smith who described the drama as ‘truly, truly wonderful, challenging, thought provoking, uplifting and emotional’.