An original school of Rock

Mayville High School taking part in Rock Challenge at The Guildhall, Portsmouth in 2007. Below, pictures from shows between 2006 and 2015. Pictures: Nick Scott
Mayville High School taking part in Rock Challenge at The Guildhall, Portsmouth in 2007. Below, pictures from shows between 2006 and 2015. Pictures: Nick Scott
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Dedicating 20 years to drama and dance has seen Mayville High School enter every Rock Challenge.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the school competition in the UK and Mayville has taken part since the very first show in 1996.

From William Shakespeare to Indiana Jones, the school has got creative with its eight minutes on the stage, encouraging its students to gain confidence and make new friends.

Drama teacher Lorraine Hepburn has guided the school, in St Simon’s Road, in Southsea, in Rock Challenge for the past 20 years and says she loves it just as much as the first show.

‘Every year I look forward to taking part because we can do something different,’ she says.

‘It is just as exciting now as it was back then.

‘When we received the first message about Rock Challenge we thought it would be fantastic for us to get involved in.

‘The show this year was phenomenal. It was wonderful to feel that we had met that milestone.

‘Over the years, I have seen the benefit that all the children have gained from being in the competition.’

With 20 years of shows, Mayville is still coming up with fresh ideas to go with different themes.

With props and costumes galore, the school has been able to cover a range of subjects from the conflict in Ireland to difficulties surrounding dyslexia.

And picking a favourite from the past shows was difficult for Mrs Hepburn.

She says: ‘One I did particularly enjoy was Shakespeare and the Test of Time in 2010.

‘We covered different extracts from his plays as well as the period in history that he was from.

‘It was a lot of fun with the different Shakespeare costumes as well as the sets for his plays.

‘We had a balcony for Romeo and Juliet and some great props for Julius Caesar.

‘At one point, we even did a crowd surf with Shakespeare towards the audience which was fantastic.’

Another stand-out show was Indiana Jones with the theme Combat the Gloom.

The 2009 show was inspired by the global recession and international disputes saw the school win four awards including The Janome Award for best costume design, the Hampshire Healthy Schools award for best set design, the Hampshire Constabulary Award for concept originality and the Be Your Best Foundation award for best stage crew.

Mrs Hepburn adds: ‘The Indiana Jones set had many pieces in it that were very moving.’

But serious themes aren’t all the school does, as it has also covered fun subjects such as the artist Andy Warhol.

‘There is a real variety with the themes,’ says Mrs Hepburn.

‘It has got harder to come up with new ones but we always find something good.

‘We start off with quite a few but then we whittle them down to two or three.

‘The students then research the theme and see how we can cover it and what costumes we could use.

‘We have a big book of ideas and as a group we think about what would work at the time and how to create that.

‘Some years we have gone back to ideas we had mentioned previously but never done.’

Mrs Hepburn, pictured left, adds that they always strive to win the original concept award avoiding obvious themes like drug misuse.

‘We have won quite a lot of awards,’ she says.

‘We are in the top end of the scale on certain aspects of Rock Challenge.

‘For a small school like us, it’s amazing really.

‘We have won set design awards and costume awards in the past which is great.’

But for the students, Rock Challenge is not all about the glitzy costumes and awards.

Mrs Hepburn says it gives the students the chance to socialise with others at the school but also pupils from other schools taking part.

‘It is all about the camaraderie,’ she adds.

‘Although it is a competition, Rock Challenge gives the students the chance to meet other people from different school and quite often they exchange numbers and stay in touch.

‘It builds the students’ confidence as well to get on stage and perform.

‘So much hard work goes into those eight minutes which can change a student’s life.

‘It gives them an insight into how to perform in front of a big audience and what it takes to learn the routine.

‘They rehearse for six weeks leading up to it and it is difficult squeezing it all in but they manage it.’

Years and themes

- 1996: ‘Us and them’

- 1997: ‘Hooray for Hollywood’

- 1998: ‘007 Girl Power’

- 1999: Unknown

- 2000: Unknown

- 2001: ‘Nightmare!’

- 2002: ‘A Changing World’

- 2003: ‘Under Pressure’

- 2004: ‘24/7 Have YOU got the time?’

- 2005: ‘Born To Be Wild’

- 2006: ‘Dyslexia rules KO!’

- 2007: ‘Food 4 Thought’

- 2008: Take the Die out of Diamond’

- 2009: ‘Combat the Gloom’

- 2010: ‘The Test of Time’

- 2011: ‘Break the Silence of Domestic Violence’

- 2012: ‘Just An Illusion?’

- 2013: ‘Born Without Wings’

- 2014: ‘Space, So Close… But Beyond Imagination!’

- 2015: ‘Transmitting Warhol, Transmitting Fame’