“For a pupil to write and direct such an ambitious play is an amazing achievement. The acting was first-class and the audience was captivated by the action on stage from start to finish. It has been a privilege to support Tessa in making The Severans a reality.” 

Nick Huntington, Director of Drama

Fifth former Tessa wrote and directed her own play, The Severans, which was performed in the Christopher Lee Theatre at Wellington College on 15 January.

The twelve-strong cast was made up of pupils from across the year groups including three Upper Sixth formers, one Lower Sixth former, three Fifth formers and three Third formers. Tessa directed the play with the support of Wellington’s drama department including Production Administrator Jennie Douglas who sourced some incredible costumes.  The experience of directing was eye-opening and challenging at times but Tessa said, “I learnt a lot about how to get the right reactions and best performances out of the actors and how to format a technical script.  Watching the cast step on stage for the first time and see the words I’d written come to life was very special.”

The Severans tells the story of the tumultuous power struggle of the children of Septimius Severus, the first black emperor of Rome. When their father suddenly dies and issues the unexpected decree that his sons co-rule, the empire is thrown into turmoil with the two rivals, Geta and Caracalla tussling for power, while their mother Julia fights to keep her own influence and mediate between the battling emperor.

The idea came to GCSE drama student, Tessa, while she was looking for inspiration for her Higher Project Qualification (HPQ). Tessa’s mum happened to send her an article about Septimius Severus which sparked Tessa’s imagination, and an idea was born.

Tessa wrote a draft, performed a rehearsed reading with the chosen cast in front of the Director of Drama and Claire Anderson, Assistant Director of Drama who both gave constructive feedback for a redraft. Upon a redraft, Tessa submitted her final script which was then greenlighted for a College production.

Masie who played the role of Julia, the Empress and wife of Septimius Severus in The Severans said, “My favourite thing about performing in The Severans was working with a student director. It was my first time working with one and I instantly loved it. The ability to share and communicate as a student cast was an extremely rewarding experience. I gained communication skills, cultivated patience and with only ten days to rehearse we managed to pull it off. 

“Tessa was a patient, encouraging and hard-working director. I found her drive, motivation and organisation very inspiring. To write such a poignant and deep-rooted play about complex subject matter is extremely challenging. Both her writing and directing were really impressive and I am honoured that I was able to bring her female principal to life and create the vision that she wished for.”

The experience has confirmed to Tessa that writing is where she wants to focus her energies in the future, something that has always been a huge passion for her with several novels and another script already under her belt.  With so much ambition already, we can’t wait to see how the support and opportunities at Wellington can help Tessa’s talent grow.  

Find out more about Drama at Wellington here