Roald Dahl Project
by Benet Catty
In Autumn 2005 Benet was asked to work with the first year students at Arts Educational School’s Musical Theatre course on a project which would develop them as actors and be performed in-house to other students. “The Roald Dahl Project” was deisgned to be a mixture of a celebration of the legendary children’s author’s work and an analysis of him as a person.
Drawing on research assembled by the 17-strong company of students, variously from his own novels, biographies, articles and essays, the final 45 minute performance had everyone play a variety of roles, whether major or minor characters from the Dahl canon, or critics and friends who’d commented on him or his work. The show was a mix of verbatim theatre, jackanory and re-enactment of classic scenes. Almost everyone, at some stage, played Roald Dahl himself.
The play included famous scenes from Boy, The Witches, Danny Champion of the World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Twits, James and the Giant Peach and Going Solo.
In 2010, Benet expanded the piece for the Year Out Drama Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and its cast of 26 students. This new and substantially revised version of the play proved to much more successfully demonstrate the variety of Dahl's life and work than the original piece and once again proved an ideal showcase for the talents of a student company.