In 1971, aged 8, I went to Eltham College, an English Public School, reknowned for its academic leanings, where I was a dayboy for ten years. I won 1st prize in the annual Reading and Speech Competition, in my age group, seven times.
From the outset, I took part in annual school plays, and in the Shakespearean tradition played the girls – including playing a princess in “The Charcoal Burner’s Son“, in 1973, and Alice, in her adventures, in 1974, and in a Sixth Form Review I played “Tina” in Joe Orton’s “Funeral Games.”
In the main school I at first played only small roles in the annual school plays – in Giles Cooper’s “Unman, Wittering and Zigo“, Aumerle in Shakespeare’s “Richard II” in 1977, Benvolio in “Romeo and Juliet“, and the ‘boy’ in the French farce, “The Italian Straw Hat” by Eugene Labiche.
In March 1979, aged 16, ‘O’ Levels behind me, I played Joseph Surface in Sheridan’s “School for Scandal“, directed by then Head of English, Anthony Barnard, in the gym/theatre space at the school. (Eltham College now sports the ‘Anthony Barnard Theatre’.)
In March 1980, aged 17, I played Charleston, the lighthouse keeper, in Robert Ardrey’s “Thunder Rock“, directed by Anthony Barnard.
During this year I also directed extracts from Jean Anouilh’s “Antigone“, in which I played Creon, for a Sixth Form Drama Showcase.
In July 1981, following A Level exams, I played Prospero, in Shakespeare’s, “The Tempest“, directed by Anthony Barnard, in the open central courtyard.