Comedy commissioned by Founder, Archbishop Whitgift, is performed at Whitgift School.
Director, Mr Paul Wilson, and his highly-talented cast, ranging from First to Lower Sixth Formers, took on the monumental task of performing Summer’s Last Will and Testament, by the Elizabethan writer, Thomas Nashe. The comedy, first performed at the end of the sixteenth century, was commissioned by the School’s Founder, Archbishop John Whitgift, to entertain the visiting monarch, when visiting his Croydon residence.
Never has there been a performance with such historical links to the School; fittingly performed in the beautiful Founder’s Garden. The occasion, towards the end of the Trinity Term, also served to mark the book launch of a biography celebrating the life of John Whitgift, written by the Headmaster, the first to be published for nearly fifty years. Dr Barnett thanked the Whitgift Foundation for supporting the publication, as well as Mr Wilson for indulging his idea of bringing the Nashe play to fruition.
The audience, some dressed in Elizabethan costume, were delighted by the unique nature of the event, and were thoroughly impressed by the young actors, who delivered the highly-intellectual script with aplomb beyond their years, and the graceful dancers. Musical interludes included performances by Whitgift choristers, and superb solos by Mr Wilson and Mr Alan Weakley.
The production, adapted by Mr Wilson to suit a modern audience, features personifications of the four seasons, with Summer as the ‘king of the world’, but now old and diminished, and ready to make his will. As if in tune with the storyline, the weather responded on cue, with the evening sunset subsiding into gusts of wind at mention of Autumn, and glowering clouds accompanying Summer’s decline.
Mr Wilson commented, “I have been proud of many of my productions, but I have never been more proud than I was after our performance of Summer’s Last Will and Testament. The extraordinary abilities of my cast and their superb work-ethic meant that my vision of the piece was fully realised. I was humbled, and deeply moved, by the boys’ commitment and maturity.”