RGS Christmas Drama Production – Treasure Island

It was all swash and buckle in the Concert Hall as the Christmas Drama production of Treasure Island played to sell-out audiences. The company was led by Emma B as Jim Hawkins, Liberty T as Long John Silver and Annie J as Grandma, in their final performances after seven years of appearing on the RGS stage. Other stand-out performances came from Billy R, Caitlyn F, Emma T, Alex C, Harry H and Julia P leading a fabulous ensemble cast, as well as Eva P debuting as Deputy Stage Manager. A particular highlight was a rapt audience of local year 5 and year 6 pupils, who cheered for every sword fight and cowered at the pirates. Thank you to all staff, students, parents and supporters who have made this show such a success.

The Director, Hugh Edwards, says,

Treasure Island is a fascinating story for me, because it explores several thematic ideas through the lens of a traditional adventure story. On the surface, the characters are seeking gold – wealth beyond any of their wildest dreams. But each has their own reason for the journey. For the Squire, it is status and acclaim – he already has gold enough but now he’ll be an admiral. For Long John, it is reputation and legacy – she will have bested her old master and tormentor and will go down in legend. For the doctor – the wisest and most rational member of the team – a chance to prove that women can be just as useful as men in difficult situations. And finally for Jim – initially the adventure itself is enough: a chance to leave her hum-drum life and sail the seas with pirates is all she ever dreamed of. But when confronted with moral choices, double-dealing and temptation, she has to decide which treasure means more – the physical gold or the friendship, loyalty and family she would be leaving behind. 

This adaptation also puts women at the centre of the narrative in a way the original story doesn’t, and we have taken that even further in our production. Robert Louis Stevenson went as far as to say that the story was ‘for boys only’, and the only woman in the original book is Jim’s mother, who ruins everything by fainting. We don’t think that’s appropriate for a story that we want all ages to see and enjoy. History suggests that female pirates were more common than film and television would have us believe, and we have loved exploring how our perceptions of sailors, pirates, fighters and mercenaries are tied up in gender stereotypes and can be exploded without much effort at all. As usual, we took our lead here from A Muppet Treasure Island, where Miss Piggy blazed a trail as Benjamina Gunn! 

It’s been an unalloyed pleasure to work with this group of shipmates on this show, and to create a space for their creativity as we explored the play, its themes and how to walk the thin line between fairy story, horror film and moments of awe and wonder.”

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