Students motivated for Magical ‘Mort’

Written by Neil Goodwin on .

Less than one month ago a group of International Baccalaureate students at St John’s Academy in Marlborough decided to take on the challenge of directing and performing a dramatised version of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Mort’ to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK (see ''Mort in a month' challenge for students').

Since 17 September the group of around 50 students between the ages of 16 and 18 have been working tirelessly to produce a stunning performance of ‘Mort’, a novel published in 1987 as part of Pratchett’s Discworld series and later dramatised by Stephen Briggs. The first of two performances of the play will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 17) with the second performance on Saturday 20 October at 7pm in St John’s Theatre on the Hill.

A talking doorknob, a street party for wizards, and a monkey in charge of a university – anything is possible in Discworld, where the story of a young boy named Mort is set.  This performance recounts the challenges and interesting encounters with strange people that young Mort faces when he becomes an apprentice to Death himself.  In a split second, Mort makes a decision to save a beautiful princess from dying, which alters the reality that his world hangs in and presents him with more obstacles than he has ever faced before.

The idea to produce the 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.  Two St John’s teachers will also be performing in the play, Mr Gary Paterson, St John’s IB Co-ordinator, and Dr Leslie Spencer, St John’s IB CAS Co-ordinator.  International Baccalaureate students are required to complete a minimum of 150 hours non-academic CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) activities in order to receive their Diploma and for the St John’s IB students involved in the production Mort will become part of their final qualification when the leave St John’s.

The wacky and hilarious tale of Mort will appeal to anyone of any age with any sense of humour, as well as having a deeper underlying meaning that will interest and intrigue all.  The students have worked long and hard in refining the choreography, giving an extra dimension to the screenplay by adding tremendously realistic fight scenes one minute and making the audience laugh out loud the next.
St John’s student and Mort Press Officer Charlie Linney, 17 said “This challenge is one of the most demanding that the school has ever undertaken, and IB students are not ones to back down.  I have every confidence that the performance will be amazing and that we will make a significant contribution to Alzheimer’s Research UK”.

The decision to support this charity was easy to make for the students: Alzheimer’s is a disease which affects a large percentage of the population and Sir Terry Pratchett, himself affected by the disease, is also a great supporter of their work.

With only a few days to go until the opening performance, the students prepare themselves for a rollercoaster week of rehearsals and excitement; final touches are being made, costumes are being designed, and tickets are selling fast. They are ready and the audience is waiting in anticipation: St John’s is preparing for something very special.

Tickets, which are available on the door, are £6 for adults and £4 for concessions..