December 16th marked the first of three public performances of Ely High School's dramatic production, Maenad to Martyr, in which seven Soham Grammar School boys took part. This was the first time that the High School had 'borrowed' boys from the School to take the main male roles.
The production itself consisted of three plays, all dealing, in some way, with the subject of religion: the first was The Bacchae by Euripides, based on the myth of the birth of Dionysus, the god of wine. It was, for Peter Jaggard who took this role, a complete reversal of Common Man, the part he played in A Man for All Seasons. It also demanded a very different technique in acting. Peter Leonard played Pentheus, who was involved in a conflict with Dionysus over the conduct of his worship.
The second was a Medieval Miracle play involving none of our boys, but the third, T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral contained all seven, i.e. John Harding, who was Thomas himself, Peter Jaggard, lan Crofts, Richard Street, David Hazelgrove, Andrew Humberstone and Peter Leonard. The producer was Mrs. Endicott.
The result of the co-operation was a great success - both on and off stage. All the boys seemed to enjoy the acting despite the fact that ulterior motives could well be suspected for their enthusiasm! We also have reason to believe that the girls derived a lot of pleasure from it too. After a few rehearsals everyone made friends with everyone else and the consequence was an extremely friendly atmosphere which everybody enjoyed.
P. E. Leonard
from the Summer 1970 Soham Grammarian provided by Frank Haslam
from the 1969-70 EHS magazine, via Miss Pam Blakeman
From Maenad to Martyr
Last December Ely High School once more put on a school play. There were a few differences in this particular performance, however. It was decided to present three plays and also to invite Soham Grammar School to join us in order that we might have an authentic male cast.
The three plays varied greatly, but the link of religion was sufficient to give continuity and yet leave scope for variance in theme. "The Bacchae" set the scene for high drama and the medieval miracle play then changed the atmosphere to provide some relaxatlon. The climax of the evening was TS Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral".
It proved important to perform various exercises in order to synchronise the speeches for "The Bacchae" with the dance drama, and in order to develop the sense of ritual in the spoken verse.
The Medieval Miracle Play was presented as a spontaneous performance for a religious festival. The play was a story from the New Testament and the actors were the guildsmen and tradesmen of a medieval town. The impression created was intended to be that of acting which was rough, unrehearsed but nevertheless sincere.
"Murder in the Cathedral" was probably the play most enjoyed by the cast. Whereas "The Bacchae" provided scope in movernent the Eliot play gave plenty of opportunity for group activity. The cast learnt to speak and move together and to evoke and maintain the atmosphere throughout.
From Maenad to Martyr was a great success. It was an ambitious evenlng's entertainment, but, thanks to the help and co-operation of all concerned and of course to Mrs Endicott the producer, everything ran smoothly.
Heather Barker, LVI
If you have photographs, reviews or a programme showing cast details for this production, please contact the editor
page last updated 13 Jan 11