A Play in A Day – Jane Austen’s Emma

Amery Hill and Eggar’s Schools’ pupils took part in ‘A play in a day’, (based on Jane Austen’s Emma) part of the town’s Regency Week celebrations on campus recently. 

The Director, author and play-write Wendy Reynolds devised the plan with Nicola Kingsley, Curriculum Manager for English at Alton College, and with the help of the drama teachers from both schools, the plan became reality. Wendy Reynolds’ passion is the local author Jane Austen, so a play based on one of her novels seemed the logical answer. In discussion with the Regency Week committee it was agreed that the play could be based on Austen’s novel of 1815 ‘Emma’ and would be for the students of the town’s secondary schools to work on. An adaptation in three sections was produced for the 25 pupils to work on and they joined together in the studio at Alton College for a rehearsed reading and performance.

‘A play in a day’ really became a play in half a day, the challenge was to perform a costumed and script held performance lasting about 1 hour 10 minutes, a huge challenge for any professional actor, but 25 boys and girls of all abilities, many without any stage experience and who had never read Jane Austen took up the challenge with excitement, focus and commitment. Together they entered into a very short rehearsal period and gave a spirited public performance, one of which they should be proud.

After the performance, Wendy said: ‘The students were a joy to work with and I look forward to working on another project. My thanks go to Nicola Kingsley (Alton College), Owain Lewis (Amery Hill School) and Ali Lambourne (Eggar’s School) for entering into the spirit of the day. We all had fun and came away feeling very proud indeed.’