Sidcot's Gothic Gathering

On an October night dreary, with damp mists rolling over the isle of Sidcot and sheets of rain surging over the soggy Mendips, Drama students, Leiths cooks and English students gathered in a collection of disturbing locations around Sidcot School to thrill and chill the bones of those who dared venture around its shadowy corridors.

The promenade performance, designed by Director of Drama, Ebba Scherer, and very ably assisted by Graduate Intern, Ollie Painter, contained a great variety of gothic content and a real showcase of the talent within our student body. And what a grisly, disturbing body it was. Sixth Formers, Diana, Emily and Alice performed a finely tuned and unsettling piece of gothic theatre whose choreography held all who watched spellbound and fascinated. A truly mesmerising and uncanny performance, and a fine gothic start to the promenade.

Year 10 students, Freya and Lois, raised the hair on the audience’s necks through a key scene from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, where Renfield speaks to Dr Seward about the dangers faced by the Harkers. Mr Resuggan’s classroom served nicely as a bloodlit venue. But even more terrifying than this was the performance and subsequent original readings given by the gruesome twosome of Cara and Orlagh in Year 7. Thank you to Mr Kilpatrick for the use of his vault / crypt / office. Such ruined, corrupted and, frankly, demonically possessed children. They weren’t done there either: they followed audiences around in the rain, singing haunting lullaby tunes whilst swaying listlessly in puddles, staring blankly into space. Oh the horror, the horror, the HORROR!

Not to be outdone, Year 11 Annie gave an impassioned reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and Year 7 Olivia also performed a gothic Sidcot poem that would have delighted Vincent Price or Tim Burton. A dramatic tour de force of a reading by Year 12 student Susanna in the Drawing Room stunned our gothic wanderers as she drew the ego and the insecurity of Dorian Gray straight off the page. A triumvirate of witchfinder generals (alumnus Alistair Kerr Smiley, and Year 12 students Jasmine and Joshua) and a Svengali MC (Ollie Painter) improvised splendidly in the Science Block foyer, featuring hand addiction, coverups of crimes of passion and possessed children… Of course. Such dizzyingly fast and funny wit. Well done!

The finale was entirely appropriate from Director of Food Technology, Huw Meredith, and his team of Leiths gothic cooks: a recipe from the lauded Swedish Chef Magnus Nilsson – bone marrow (cooked on an open fire, not chilled), heart and toast. Fire, blood, a hacksaw and a spoon; talk about nailing the brief! Mr Meredith says: it is in our teaching at Sidcot to make sure that we use as much of the animal as possible when we take a life. The team were: Wolfetone, Katie, Joe, Theo, Caspar, Jack, Christopher and Nat. All staff who assisted need to be thanked, and students congratulated on a fabulous Gothic Gathering 2023. More for 2024, please!