Glenalmond College has been announced as a finalist in the Independent School of the Year Awards 2021.
Glenalmond is the only Scottish school finalist in the Performing Arts category of the awards which this year attracted more than 700 nominations.
Congratulating staff, Dr Michael Alderson, head of Glenalmond College, said reaching the finals of this prestigious award was a tremendous achievement: ‘Drama, Music and Art are very much at the heart of life at Glenalmond and this award is recognition of our dedicated team of outstanding staff who consistently go the extra milen.’
Glenalmond was one of very few schools in the UK to stage a play successfully in the midst of restrictions at the end of 2020, allowing pupils to experience fully being in a performance, while adhering to COVID-safe measures.
Epicene, Ben Johnson’s 1609 Renaissance comedy, was painstakingly adapted to ensure it met COVID-safety requirements by Glenalmond’s Director of Theatre, Liz Moss.
The play was originally performed after a long period when Jacobean London theatres were closed due to the plague, so the timing of its Glenalmond revival chimed keenly with the present day.
Online auditions for the play started during remote learning in June 2020, when pupils from all year groups were assessed for the parts via Google Meet interviews with Mrs Moss, from Scotland to Italy to Thailand.
Liz, who created a surreal world, blending a Renaissance aesthetic with a 1980s New Romantic look and sound, added: ‘We also wanted to adapt the play to make sure the production was really pacey and fun and absolutely relevant.’
The script, acting and backstage ways of working were all adapted to meet social distancing constraints such as strict limits on the number of performers on the stage at any one time and to ensure our COVID-safe year group bubbles were kept physically distanced at all times.
The play also embraced the subject of gender performance, with girls and boys playing both male and female roles, challenging the audience to think about gender and how society expects men and women to behave.
Glenalmond’s Artist in Residence, Christopher Moss, produced a stunning set for the play, working late into the night and through the weekends to recreate a London street of the period meticulously, complete with windows, archways and neon-lit gauze cutaways, helping pupils create an atmosphere despite not having a live audience.
The play featured arrangements of ‘80s music carefully produced by the school’s Director of Music, Dr Tim Ridley, and recorded by school musicians, both staff and pupils.
During the year, Glenalmond’s staff brought numerous other musical productions to life and shared them online free of charge so everyone could enjoy them.
A performance by the Pipe Band on the banks of the River Almond featured in the successful Online Autumn Concert and the school also shared online its Remembrance Service, Candlelit Carol Service and Hogmanay Special.
The winners of each category will be announced during the Independent Schools of the Year Virtual Awards Ceremony to be held on Thursday 7 October at 3pm.
For more information visit www.glenalmondcollege.co.uk.