Around the world in 80 days drama production

On 3rd and 4th December 2019, drama students from Years 8 and 9 travelled back to Victorian times and voyaged around the globe (…or in our case, the main hall!) in just 80 days (an evening!) in an adaptation of the 1872 adventure novel ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ written by Jules Verne.

The story begins in London, where Phileas Fogg – a wealthy Victorian gentleman and member of the reform club reads a newspaper article stating that it is possible to voyage around the world in 80 days. In a bid to prove this to his to his fellow club members, Fogg wages half of his life’s fortune of £20,000 that he and his newly appointed French valet Passerpartout can do just that!

The production saw the cast set out on a dazzling escapade that took them through the misty valleys of London to the exotic subcontinent and on to the Wild West as they raced against the clock on a dizzying succession of trains, steamers, a wind-propelled sledge and an elephant!

But it’s not all plain sailing for Mr Fogg… a case of mistaken identity in Egypt means that he is unable to secure a warrant and ends up being accompanied to Bombay on a steamer by a Scotland Yard detective.  After reaching India, they take a train from Bombay to Calcutta. On this journey Fogg realises that there was a mistake in the original article and a stretch of railway track had not yet been built. There is only one way forward – by elephant! With the elephant purchased and a guide hired, the journey continues.

Whilst in India they meet a young woman called Aouda who is in trouble so they decide to rescue her and take her with them. The journey continues but not without delay, Fogg misses his connection and has now been separated from his trusty sidekick Passerpartou.

Eventually reunited, the four board a paddle-steamer called the General Grant, taking them across the Pacific to San Francisco.

In a race against time, the companions eventually arrive in Ireland and take the train to Dublin and before catching a ferry to Liverpool. By this point, they are still in time to reach London before the deadline. Once on English soil, Detective Fix produces a warrant and arrests Fogg. A short time later, the misunderstanding is cleared up – the actual robber, an individual named James Strand, had been caught three days earlier in Edinburgh. However, Fogg has missed the train and arrives in London five minutes late, certain he has lost the wager.

The following day Fogg apologises to Aouda for bringing her with him, since he now has to live in poverty and cannot support her. Aouda confesses that she loves him and asks him to marry her. As Passepartout notifies a minister, he learns that he is mistaken in the date – it is not 22 December, but instead 21 December. Because the party had travelled eastward, their days were shortened by four minutes for each of the 360 degrees of longitude they crossed; thus, although they had experienced the same amount of time abroad as people had experienced in London, they had seen 80 sunrises and sunsets while London had seen only 79.

Passepartout informs Fogg of his mistake, and Fogg hurries to the Reform Club just in time to meet his deadline and win the wager. Having spent almost £19,000 of his travel money during the journey, he divides the remainder between Passepartout and Fix and marries Aouda.

After the production we caught up with Sueda in Year 9 to talk about playing the lead role…
Playing Mr Fogg was a personal challenge for me, as he was a sort of character that I usually don’t go for. In some ways I could relate to him, and other times I had to get to know him. He was a man of no emotions and nearer to the end he found them. He realised that money can’t buy him happiness- it was love and friendship. The performance was an absolute blast! The whole cast working together; it brought a real sense of community and friendship in its own way, that I will never forget!

AGGS String Orchestra success

AGGS String Orchestra have won a place at the finals of the prestigious National competition of Music for Youth. This comes as no surprise, given the standard of the playing of this orchestra, and the talent and vision of Janet Janes, who directs them. The students regularly rehearse on a Friday after school – another indication of their dedication.

Their programme of Elgar songs (Anna Townsend) and specially arranged Kodaly pieces was exhilarating to listen to and watch at the Rochdale regional competition.

String Orchestra have won through at least twice before to the finals. The date of the final is Thu 4th July, in Birmingham Town Hall.

Well done to all of them!

Senior Recital 2019

This term our Senior Recital showcased all our GCSE and A level students performing their coursework – solos and compositions – to an extremely high standard. It is always great at this stage to hear the result of their hard work since the beginning of the course.

In addition, the audience were treated to wonderful performances from both String Orchestra, directed by Mrs Janet Janes, and to Chamber Choir, led by Ms Julia Mayall, accompanied by Mrs Anne Marie Bentall. Their programmes were performed later that week at the regional heat in Rochdale Town Hall of the national competition, Music for Youth.

The programme comprised two wonderful songs from ‘Sea Pictures’ by Elgar, arranged for String Orchestra by a former parent, Ms Adrienne Spilsbury and sung by Anna Townsend. In addition they performed some exciting arrangements of a Kodaly piece.
Chamber choir sang an eclectic mix of music, from the folk blues song, led by Annie Stedman, to a clever arrangement of the Beatles’ song ‘Blackbird’, finishing with the stunning 8 part ‘Ave Maria’, written for double choir by Gustav Holst – all sung from memory.

We wish both groups well as they hope to be selected for the competition final in Birmingham in July.

Please do listen to soundclips from this competition, on @AGGS_Music

Y13 Drama performing Stolen Secrets in the style of Steven Berkoff

All three pieces were taken from ‘Stolen Secrets’ by Fin Kennedy and are about the dark and sinister secrets we keep underneath our day to day lives. These were inspired by an experiment, in which a locked box was placed in a school, and into which pupils and teachers placed their darkest secrets. They combined elements of both humour and horror, performed in the style of Steven Berkoff, a theatre practitioner who experiments with pace and expression. They were absolutely fantastic!

I really enjoyed watching the pieces. They were so different to what I expected, and I found it fascinating how they managed to make it both funny and scary at the same time. I thought they were all brilliant!

Spring Concert 2019

Tuesday 12th March marked the music department’s Spring Concert. Loads of students of all ages and abilities came together to perform a variety of different styles of music, from jazz, to classical, to popular music. There really was something there for everyone.

Particular highlights of the evening (although there are so many to choose from) included Flute Group’s creative use of percussion to mimic the sounds of a typewriter in their piece, ‘The Typewriter’, and First Orchestra’s rendition of various pieces of music from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film series.

Here’s what Ms Mayall had to say…

“This term’s Spring Concert was very special. In addition to the 170 students from Y7- Y13 performing to their usual high standard, in the many choirs, orchestras, bands and ensembles, the Y13 students, led by Amy Howarth, sang a surprise last item: ‘Thank you for the Music’, including a number of wonderful solos, and accompanied by Sisi Huang. Amy organised this with her usual enthusiasm and it was a very fitting end to what was many of the Y13’s last ever concerts at AGGS. We will miss you as a year group – so musical and always so generous with the younger students, with very many of you leading ensembles and arranging music, giving up your time. Bravo!”

A wonderful time was had by all, especially the Year 13s. We have absolutely loved our time in the music department, not just participating in the concerts and having the opportunity to perform, but also simply having fun in our spare time. We’ll all really miss this, but we can’t think of a better concert to have gone out on. Thank you to you all!

By Amy, Year 13

The Magic Flute Opera Trip

Recently, Year 8 went to the Lowry to watch the opera of The Magic Flute. This was a very exciting experience and Year 8 were lucky to have it as this was the first time the opera was put on in Manchester.

This ties in with their topic right now as well as Year 8 are studying the feature of an opera and, more specifically, The Magic Flute! The opera is based on two musical instruments which keep Prince Tamino and his bird-catching aid Papageno safe. They battle through Sarastro’s trials and the Queen of the Night’s evil schemes to get to true love and friendship.

The performance at the theater showed them a different interpretation of the opera’s unique story and was extremely humorous. Year 8 thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

By Lakshayaa, 8-3

Year 12 dancers will perform at the Lowry

On the back of our Danceworks success, we have been invited to perform a pop-up performance at the Lowry Theatre on Friday 29th March!

Our Year 12 dancers will be performing a dance, about identity and migration, in the foyer of the Lowry Theatre at 7:30pm and again at 9pm, before Protein Dance Company’s show, Border Tales.

After the show, our students will take part in The Big Debate. The whole event is due to finish at 11pm: the moment we are due to leave the EU!

A very exciting opportunity for the dancers!

The dancers: Anouska J, Emily K, Carlotta MW, Kira P, Madeleine P, Sneha R, Aisling R, Isobella Y.