The 2016 Haddon Cup
Each October, every single one of the new Shells takes part in the Haddon Cup, acting on stage in front of a large audience. This is a drama competition between the Socials, entirely directed and produced by the boys themselves – with 6.1s in each Social directing the ten-minute plays and often writing them. From start to finish, those involved have only four weeks to perfect their performances.
This year's Haddon Cup was held on Sunday October 9th in front of a packed house of dons, parents and Radleians. Neil Henry - an award winning magician and illusionist - had kindly come along to adjudicate, bringing with him the challenge to each Social to include at least one magic trick in their performance.
The deserving victors were B Social, performing The Greatish Escape - a play that was by turn witty, challenging and gloriously "meta" with embedded references to the play, the actors, the other actors, the directors, the producers, the adjudicator and the audience. If there was a fourth wall, it barely survived the performance. Directed by Benedict Yorston, Johnny Evans and Murdo Blythe - who also wrote much of the script - this was a comedy of manners, errors and observation featuring fourteen actors but only four parts - a numerical challenge that was largely addressed by the inspired use of coloured socks.
But, victors or no, the standard was extraordinarily high. Everywhere one looked there were credible, mature and inspiring examples of acting from boys who have only been at Radley for a few weeks. The performances coaxed out of them by the 6.1 directors were genuinely impressive.
E Social delivered one of the most challenging and thought provoking performances of the evening; "Alone with Thought" was a psychological confusion that explored schizophrenia and was marked by a particularly impressive performance by Hugo Carr. The writer, Rory Betley, was specifically complimented by the adjudicator who wondered whether a writing career might yet beckon.
A Social were commended for the best magical trick of the evening. H Social deserved their praise for a particularly witty interpretation of school life entitled The Shawshank Detention. J Social resurrected the Dead Poets Society with considerable panache. G Social delivered a hugely engaging extract from Lord of the Flies. Nithan Simanand of F Social was commended for his cameo as the Kolokolo Bird in The Elephants's Child. And D Social impressed everyone, not least the Modern Languages Department, with their extract from The History Boys delivered almost entirely in French.
Based on these performances by boys in only their first term at Radley, we have much to look forward to over the coming five years.