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News > Memories at Hymers > Memories of Past Production 'Daisy Pulls It Off'

Memories of Past Production 'Daisy Pulls It Off'

Production of 'Daisy Pulls It Off' in 1997
Production of 'Daisy Pulls It Off' in 1997

At the end of the Summer Term 2022, our Year 7 to Year 9 students gave a marvellous performance of 'Daisy Pulls It Off'.  The play was last performed at Hymers 25 years ago when some of our current parents and members of staff took part in the 1997 Hymers Sixth Form Production, directed by Head of English and Director of Sixth Form, Mr Neil King.

The show was performed in the Judi Dench Theatre and the actress herself send a good luck message:

I was delighted to hear about your latest production, Daisy Pulls It Off, and I would just like to wish you and everyone taking part a huge success.

I know it must have been a lot of hard hard work, but a lot of fun too, and I'm sorry I can't be there to see it.

With best wishes to you all, Judi Dench

Neil King attended Hymers to see the recent performance and has kindly shared his memories of the production he directed 25 years ago...

I was delighted to be invited back to Hymers College to see the Lower Senior School production of Daisy Pulls It Off, bringing back memories of when I directed that play as a Sixth Form production 25 years ago.

On and off, I had directed the main Hymers drama productions since 1975; ‘on’ until 1984, and then mainly ‘off’ after the first Hymers Head of Drama had been appointed. In early 1997, I directed my first Sixth Form production, something which was to continue until my retirement in 2006. I chose Daisy both because we had good female actors in the Sixth Form at that time, and also because the boys had had a fair crack of the whip in recent productions. So this was ‘one for the girls’. However, in order to accommodate a number of boys who wanted to be in the production, I devised a chorus of male narrators sitting at the side of stage dressed in prep school short trousers and caps – some of them six foot tall and more! Their costumes, together with the girls’ gym slips and the teachers’ dowdy outfits, gave a perfect period feel. A live band accompanied the production with 20s/30s music, and such was the talent in the Sixth Form that I had Alex Watson (OH 1991-98) to direct the music and the brilliant trombonist Will Hairsine (OH 1992-97) in the band.

As soon as term started in January 1997 we started rehearsals with just 28 days before the first night. How we did it in that time, rehearsing only lunchtimes and after school, I’ll never know. Now a professional actor, I cannot conceive of being ready for a first night without at least three or four weeks rehearsing all day, every day. What happened was a tribute to the professional approach of those young people who were punctual to rehearsals, worked hard, and learned their lines early. I ‘topped and tailed’ the performance by getting one of the actors, Fiona MacKay, to sing songs of the period as the audience came in and for the actors to mingle with the audience. That was the ‘top’. The ‘tail’ came after the curtain call: traditional English comedies often ended with a dance or a jig, and the period of the play cried out for the girls to dance a Charleston. Julia Tapley (OH Staff 1995-2014) came and directed that, which made a joyous ending to the evening. On the last night the dancing continued and some reluctant and not-so-reluctant audience members were sought out by the girls and dragged onstage to join in.

A happy memory which stands out among so many.

Neil King (OH Staff 1974-2006)
July 2022

To view the photo gallery below, containing photos from the 1997 Production, please login to your Old Hymerian account.

Photo gallery

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