Audiences knocked out by latest HOUSELIGHTS production

22 Mar 24

HOUSELIGHTS latest production, JAB, proved to be a real hit with audiences this term. 

The play charts the tale of a young female boxer, Maxine, who is tipped to become a member of Team GB’s boxing squad, until an unexplained seizure leaves her stranded in the ring. 

Student Director, Lilly Howse, said ‘This is our second devised piece with the HOUSELIGHTS ensemble and I think it is possibly our best performance yet. It’s also been our most personal. We knew we wanted to do something about a female boxer but it wasn’t until we were several weeks into rehearsals that the idea emerged.’ 

The HOUSELIGHTS team went through a series of physical theatre workshops to generate ideas for the show and by Christmas a full script had been written based on some of the ideas that came out of the process. 

Head of Drama, Adrian C. Smith, said ‘I’m really pleased with the story we’ve managed to pull together - it is an emotional rollercoaster, and it touches on the frustration of awaiting a diagnosis. The story could have easily become flat, but the HOUSELIGHTS ensemble had so much energy and focus that they’ve really produced something magical. 

‘Our ensemble have been phenomenal. Despite everything going on around them they have really raised the bar again this year. I couldn’t be prouder of what they have produced and how hard they have worked. From our cast of actors to other students working behind the scenes making costumes, stage-managing, composing original music, operating the sound and lights or as part of our directorial team, it’s been awesome.’ 

This year’s production saw several new arrivals to the HOUSELIGHTS ensemble, including Mabel Walton who played the lead role, Maxine. 

Mabel said ‘This is the first show I’ve been able to take part in since before COVID-19. I’d seen my sister involved with HOUSELIGHTS over the last two years and it was one of the main reasons I decided to join Chatham and Clarendon’s sixth form. 

‘It’s a really intense show with so many physical sequences to learn and remember and I’m on stage for virtually the whole thing apart from a few quick costume changes. It was really challenging but I’m so glad to have been a part of it.’ 

JAB was the third HOUSELIGHTS production for Maddy Sales, who plays Maxine’s close friend and sparring partner Casey. 

Maddy said ‘I think this is without doubt the best HOUSELIGHTS production I’ve been involved with. The Frantic Assembly style sequences were so much fun to be a part of and develop and by the end of the run I was literally going through the sequences and lines in my sleep.’ 

Mr Smith finished by saying ‘There’s such a special atmosphere at this school built on compassion, trust and respect, which has filtered from the Headteacher down. My colleague Vicki and I took a chance and set HOUSELIGHTS up three years ago because we knew we had the full support of the School Leadership Team. It makes such a difference knowing you can take risks and that there are people behind you willing for it to succeed or to pick you up if you fail. It’s something we try to instil in our students, and we are seeing them grow more confident and ambitious year on year.  

‘It’s unique. I’ve never known another school to have such a sense of community and to champion the creative arts as much as they do here at Chatham and Clarendon. The success of JAB is no coincidence. Our students have grown so much since the pandemic and it’s so nice to finally see them reach their potential again.’