'Mort in a month' challenge for students

Written by Peter Davison.

A group of thirty Marlborough students have set themselves a deadly serious challenge – to put on a theatre performance of Terry Pratchett's Mort in just one month.

In doing so the sixth form students, who are studying for the International Baccalaureate at St John’s, aim to raise funds for an Alzheimer's charity, in recognition of the condition that has afflicted the author.

On 17 October, exactly one month from the first script read-through, the first performance of Mort – which is being directed, produced and choreographed by the students – will be unveiled to the public at The Theatre on the Hill at St John’s.

Published in 1987 as part of the Discworld novel collection, Mort was written by Sir Terry Pratchett and was later dramatised by Stephen Briggs.

The performance tells the story of young Mort who is sent away by his father to become an apprentice with a tradesman, who turns out to be Death himself.

In a twist of fate, Mort decides to save a princess whose time it was to die, drastically altering a part of Discworld’s reality. From this point, there begins a dramatic race against time for Mort to save the princess’s life.

The play offers a combination of comedy as well as a thoughtful insight into human nature. Mort is a production that both children and adults will find compelling and entertaining, with a thought provoking message that will appeal to everyone on a different level.

Mort in a Month rehearsals, day 1Mort in a Month rehearsals, day 1Common to all Pratchett novels, Mort contains some wicked one-liners. Certain to get the biggest laugh of the night is: "It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever. Have you thought of going into teaching?"

The idea to produce a play was proposed by Year 13 students Charlotte Farrow and Sam Hutchings and will be brought to life entirely by Sixth Form students at St John’s, some of whom are performing, some taking backstage roles and others responsible for ticket sales and marketing.

International Baccalaureate students are required to complete a minimum of 150 hours non-academic Creativity, Action and Service activities in order to receive their Diploma, and for the IB students involved in the production Mort will become part of their final qualification when the leave the school.

Principal Dr Patrick Hazlewood, who is a strong advocate of the International Baccalaureate said: “I am not surprised to see our sixth form students taking on such a big challenge, and I hope that students and their families will support their aim to raise a substantial sum for Alzheimers Research UK. I have every confidence that they will be able to put on a high quality performance, despite the extremely tight deadline.”

As well as being a huge amount of fun, the aim of this production is to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, a charity for which Sir Terry himself has done a lot of work with over the years.

So why take on this enormous challenge in a month? IB student and Mort press officer Charlie Linney said: “It’s simple: IB students think big, and when we work together, the sky’s the limit!”

The play will have two performances, on Wednesday 17 and Saturday 20 October, starting at 7pm. Tickets are on sale at £6 for adults and £4 for concessions.

Booking forms are available from St John’s Reception and student services, from The Theatre on the Hill pages of the St John’s website www.stjohns.wilts.sch.uk/Theatre or by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.