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News > Christ College Archive > Big School productions

Big School productions

Now in the Galleries - Anthony and Cleopatra (1952); As You Like It (1953); Macbeth (1954)
The Big Schoolroom. Christ College Archive.
The Big Schoolroom. Christ College Archive.

The opening of Big School (now the Kendrick Edwards Library) in 1881 provided a large room in which occasional drama productions could be performed on stage in front of an audience of guests, parents and pupils. Scenes from plays and dramatic readings were popularly performed for Christmas theatricals in the early twentieth century, and early productions included Sheridan’s 'The Critic' (1894) and 'HMS Pinafore' (1905).

Though the dais provided a stage, the tall ceiling and the large north window of Big School demanded cleverly engineered scenery that disguised the awkward proportions of the room. There were particular difficulties with managing entrances and exits, which OBs recall were often resourcefully solved with the use of ropes and ladders.

When ‘Hamlet’ was performed in the new Memorial Hall (1955), the review in The Breconian revealled the difficulties that had been previously faced by actors performing in Big School. There was evidently some relief that the new hall would mean . . .

“. . . no more makeshift [scenery] – however ingenious and character forming; no more two-hour imprisonments of a whole cast behind a backcloth; no more little momentary crises and awkward entrances and exits to remind the audience that this wasn’t really a theatre but Big School in fancy dress.”

To celebrate productions in the first home of the Dramatic Society at Christ College, we’ve posted a gallery of photographs of Big School productions from the Archive: ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’ (1952) and ‘Macbeth’ (1954), as well as ‘As You Like It’ (1953).

The photographs and programmes in the Galleries have been kindly donated to the Archive collection by a wide range of Old Breconians and friends. We are ever grateful for their generosity, and for their willingness to allow others to share the enjoyment of them. 

We think there may be other photographs of earlier productions out there. If you have any that you would be willing to offer to the Archive collection or loan for scanning, please let Felicity or Huw know.




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