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Drama brings time to reflect

Senior school pupils delivered two thought-provoking performances of ‘Still Life’, a new production created to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Written and produced by senior deputy headmaster Mr Howson, ‘Still Life’ looked back to the events of 1916, balancing these with scenes set in the Elysian Fields Care Home in 2016.

Max Jackson, Nathan Eckersley, Alex Grant, Harry Matthews and Finley Nolan were outstanding in their performances as officers experiencing the trenches and the loss of their comrades.

The feisty characters in the Elysian Fields Care Home in 2016 were also trapped in a confined space but refusing, even as they contemplated death and ageing, to ‘go gently into that good night’. Niall Manford, Beatrice Asquith, Emma Crook, Sonu Thomas, Leah Sihan, Phoebe Roberts and Phoebe Micklefield played their parts with perfect comic timing.

The play was devised from various sources including the works of the famous war poets such as Owen, Rosenberg and Sassoon; less familiar words drawn from the many diaries, memoirs and novels which have since appeared; and information from the school’s archives on the Old Stopfordians who died in the Battle of the Somme.

1916 was a year with resonances at home and in the wider world. On the 1st July 1916 nearly 20,000 young men died. Two of them were Old Stopfordians who were serving in the 20th Battalion, Manchester Regiment: 2nd Lieutenant Frank Brooks who fell near Fricourt as he emerged from a trench and Corporal Charles Sanford, who died at Mametz. The Battle of the Somme raged on until November and more Old Stopfordians from Glossop, Hazel Grove, Heaton Chapel, Shaw Heath, Reddish, Holmes Chapel and Bramhall died. Their names feature, along with those of others, on the Honours Board in the Hallam Hall.