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Trailblazing Emilia

The first major production hit the stage of our new, state-of-the-art performance space: a riotous, witty reclaiming of the life of an exceptional woman and a celebration of female empowerment.

Over three nights this week, students shone both on stage and behind the scenes, to deliver moving performances featuring powerful dialogue, memorable song and dazzling pyrotechnics. The never-before-told story of Emilia Bassano, a black poet long rumoured to have been Shakespeare’s muse, was written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm at a time when #MeToo dominated headlines.

Head of Drama, Ms Martin, explains: “The play has a way of blatantly and unashamedly articulating so many engrained prejudices with such care, wit and passion. It champions inclusivity and highlights the ridiculous trappings, restrictions and rules women were subjected to in the past… and explores how we are still slowly trying to untangle ourselves from these prejudices.” 

Fittingly, given its celebration of women’s voices, South Hampstead is the first school to stage the ground-breaking play. Subsequently, the actors and production team have been selected to have a chapter featured in Routledge’s forthcoming anthology. Below are some of the cast and crew’s experiences of being part of the dynamic production:

“Emilia inspires me not just as a woman but also as a black woman living in a society created to disadvantage her… her perseverance is incredibly influential and I feel privileged to be involved in retelling her story.” – Maika

“I hope to grow into her… to find even an inch of her passion, flair and talent and take it and run.” – Duha

Congratulations to all the talented pupils – both on stage and off – for delivering a phenomenal production with such passion, fury, laughter and song. The playwright, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm has said: “I guess what I’d love the audience to feel is empowered when they come out of it.” 

Judging from the audience’s rapturous applause, laughter and tears, the girls managed to achieve that and much more besides.

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