Joseph – review by Geraldine Durrant

Joseph Review from the Theatre South-East website

Review of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Sackville School 12 – 14 February by Geraldine Durrant

“JOSEPH” has always been a particular favourite of mine, since the days when my children played it on endless repeats on long car journeys.

We wore out tapes, had the song book and once turned up a week early at The Hawth in our eagerness to see the show performed live.

So I looked forward with keen anticipation to Sackville’s production this week – and it did not disappoint.

There can be few more feel-good shows than this musical comedy with its catchy songs, clever pastiches and witty lyrics.

And while Rice and Lloyd-Webber may have gone on to more “serious” work,  they will always be remembered most fondly for their first professional collaboration written originally as a choral piece for Cholet school, and since extended into a much-expanded and much-loved family show.

And Sackville’s production was terrific, fizzing with an infectious enthusiasm which delighted its audience.

Charlotte Nield gave a simply dazzling performance as the eponymous hero.

Her bright personality shone through as she soared effortlessly above the ensemble choir, flawlessly hitting all the high notes.

Her crisp diction ensured none of the lyrics were lost and her nuanced acting moved easily between Joseph’s strutting youth, resplendent in his multi-coloured coat, to real poignancy in her solo Close Every DooTo Me when imprisoned and abandoned in Egypt.

Olly Howland, as Potiphar, also gave a lovely performance with some deft comic touches as the rich-but-unhappy husband whose wife – played with seductive charm by Eve Lewis – makes her move on the unwilling Joseph.

And Jack Charlton Nevitt made a marvellous Pharaoh. 

With a physique born to wear Elvis’s flared jump suits, Jack’s strutting arrogance and terrific vocals were among the many highlights of the show.

Ollie Hodge and Rachel Davies turned in solid performances in their roles as the Butler and Baker, while Maud Kendrick, Peggy Wheeler, Nicole Noakes, Chloe Harman, Abi Hewitt  and Lucy Barber all brought some lovely voices to their shared role as The Narrator. 

There was sterling work too from Joseph’s band of bad brothers, with James, Batters, Eric Parker, Alex Flude, Jacob Knock, Tom Duncan, Seren Foulds, Rebekah Tyler, Keira Ellis, Katelyn Page, Freya Eastcott and Natalie Rathbone all turning in lively performances on their road from revenge to redemption.

But it is the entire ensemble which makes Joseph such a perfect production for schools and while the soloists certainly deserved praise, they were supported by an enthusiastic cast and dancers – and the school’s talented in-house orchestra of staff, pupils and parents under the musical direction of Tom Heatley.

All-in-all a marvellous evening which reflected enormous credit on Sackville’s staff and pupils, and which sent its audience out into the night humming the tunes…

Annie Dilek

Annie Dilek – ‘the bravest young woman in the world’

It is with profound sadness that we share the news that former student Annie Dilek passed away on Monday January 27th.

It is an understatement to say that she was an inspiration to all those around her. Better to use the words of one comment on her Facebook page: this was the bravest young woman in the world

For over a year Annie had been increasingly unwell, but not once did she complain, and never did she put herself before others. Annie was still socialising and joking as recently as last weekend, and her wide circle of friends were with her right to the very end.

Our thoughts are especially with her mother and father, and her brothers Rodi and Shane. For her very many friends the world this morning is a darker place. She has left a space that can never be filled.

What remains are some wonderful memories. Annie’s sunny disposition never left her, and the love which the whole Sackville community held for her was obvious every time she visited the school. One enduring memory will certainly be the trip to Ashdown House Hotel with her closest friends and the sixth form staff, where she enjoyed a high-tea full of laughter and fun, most of which originated from Annie herself.

For those of us who knew her, each will have many special recollections. Rest in peace, Annie.

Remembering Dot Barden

Remembering Dot Barden

Our fantastic former teacher Dot Barden was given a fitting send-off by the Sackville community on Thursday 6th February. To describe her is a ‘former teacher’ does not begin to do justice to her part in the lives of so many students, colleagues and friends, so many of whom were present to celebrate her extraordinary life.

Many were seeing each other for the first time in years, and the old school canteen was once again alive with their memories of their time at Sackville and just what Dot had meant to them.

Dot’s son Calvin read a moving Eulogy. This was followed by an appreciation of her grandmother by Letty, Dot’s eldest grandchild. In both of these speeches the energy and subversive humour of Dot came to fore, making it all the more clear how important she was to everyone who knew her, and just how much she will be missed.

A highlight of the evening was the reading of one of Dot’s own poems by another grand-daughter, Cerys, who is in year 8 at Sackville.

All-in-all a fitting tribute to one who will never be forgotten.

Sackville works with Cambridge University

Sackville works with Cambridge University

Students in year 10 got a taste of life at Cambridge University after hearing a talk from Dr Matt Bullimore on Tuesday 4th February. Dr Bullimore is a regular visitor to Sackville and talked of the need to try to get the best GCSE grades possible, and that with these behind you anyone is in a position to apply for a place at Cambridge or another of our prestigious universities.

On Thursday 6th, a minivan full of year 12 students visited Chuchill College to get a taste of life in the university, talk to existing students and staff, and to be given further advice on how to secure a place in one of our most competitive institutions. These students will commence their applications later this year. 

2020 has seen Sackville get four offers at Oxford and Cambridge, and we hope to be able to continue this success rate in coming years.

Of course this can only happen with strong academic progress and good teaching. We are pleased that the publication this week of the official school performance tables showed both are in place at Sackville, with our GCSE students once again significantly above average.

Year 8 German students at the BFI

Year 8 German students shine at the BFI

Our year 8 German students visited the British Film Institute on Thursday February 6th.

This is the third group who have been this year, following our French and Spanish students earlier in the term.

Once again our students were fantastic, and many volunteered to offer answers on the microphone.

Thank-you to all of the students for their hard work, and to the MFL department for organising.

Robyn’s photography success

Robyn’s photography success

A number of our A level photography students recently entered their work for the Rotary International Young Photographer of the Year competition.

Each student selected three images to present to a panel of judges, who looked at a range of submissions from local schools. EG Meridian Rotary Club chose three photographs by our Year 12 student Robyn Shenton to put forward to the regional finals. We are really proud of Robyn and the powerful images she created in the first term of her A level course. Students Rosie Sands, Emma Oglethorpe, Frida Love, Luke Slater and Holly Atkinson were all awarded a certificate of participation and we would like to thank EG Meridian Rotary Club for providing this encouraging experience for them.

Two of Robyn’s photos are reproduced here, ‘Orb’ and ‘Ominous Red Sky’.

Our debaters rise to a considerable challenge

Our debaters rise to a considerable challenge

The last week in January was a big one for our school debaters. This crack team of public speakers has been honed to perfection by Mrs Stuart in after school sessions.

On Wednesday January 29th three of our year 13 debaters went to Sevenoaks School to take part in the English Speaking Union Debating Competition. In their debate they had to oppose the motion that This house regrets the commercialisation of Pride. All three spoke eloquently and effectively and were able to rebut the points made by their opponents from Caterham School. These were all things that the adjudicator commended. We are delighted to say that Imogen Gaines, Ellie Smith and Aminah Rahman will as a result go through to the next round.

The girls had had time to prepare their speeches in advance, a luxury they did not have on Saturday February 1st when they were accompanied by four of our most persuasive year 10s at the South East Regional Heat of the Cambridge Schools’ Debating Competition. In this competition the students pair up and debate alongside two students from another school who they have never met. Opposing them are a further four students from different schools again. The students have only 15 minutes to prepare their responses to such motions as This house would ban extremist political parties, or This house would not prosecute crimes committed out of economic necessity. Our students did extremely well, as one of only two comprehensive schools in the heat, coming first in several of their group debates. In the end this was not enough to go through to the next round, with all four places taken by public schools with long-established debating traditions. A special well-done nonetheless to Aminah, Ellie and Imogen, and our amazing year 10s Lao Lufu, Suzie McMillan, Sam Baker and Michael Panayiotou.

Your Life You Choose

‘Your Life You Choose’

Year 8s enjoyed a detimetabled day in the last week of January as we welcomed a range of important visitors inlcuding magistrates, JPs and police officers, led by Frankie Sulke, CBE. The day, called Your Life You Choose included a courtroom simulation, a conversation with serving police officers, a workshop on sentencing, and an hour with a former prisoner.

The students and their tutors were enormously positive about the day, with the corridors ablaze with conversation as the students went from session to session.

Five one-hour sessions demanded and exemplary attitude from our students and we are delighted that this was recognised by our visitors. We were told 

Your pupils were an absolute credit to you all.  They engaged actively, were curious, interested and interesting.  They were respectful of each other as well as of us and it was such a pleasure to spend time with them.

We would like to thank the team of visitors who made this possible, and Ms Vance for her essential in-school organising work.

Dot Barden

Dot Barden

We are sorry to have to share the news that Dot Barden, one of Sackville’s true characters, has passed away. 

For generations of Sackville students Dot was Sackville; it is difficult to imagine our community without her vibrant contributions. She was still teaching – Latin – right up to 2014, making the subject come alive with her lurid tales of Roman excess, and by arriving to lessons in a toga. To the many she taught English such exploits are vivid memories. One of her former students has written on Facebook The best teacher I ever had. I loved English because of Mrs Barden

No-one would disagree with this. At Sackville too we would say she was the best teacher we ever had.

Farewell Dot – we are diminished with your passing. But your legacy in generations of Sussex students and staff will never fade.