Queen Ethelburga’s BTEC Performing Arts Winners on stage in the King’s Theatre
Queen Ethelburga’s BTEC Performing Arts Winners on stage in the King’s Theatre

Queen Ethelburga’s success at the North London Festival of Music, Speech & Drama

26 May 2021

Students studying on the BTEC Performing Arts programme at North Yorkshire Independent School, Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE), have taken home three prestigious accolades from the North London Festival of Music Speech and Drama.

Three pieces were entered into the competition and QE took the top spot in the Group Acting Category for 16-18 year olds, and first and second place in the 16-18 Monologue competition. Hosted online for 2021, the festival, which was founded in 1920, is open to people living or studying in the UK across the Performing Arts.

In the Group Acting category for 16-18 year olds, and a company of 5-8 actors, a piece from a play called ‘When they go Low’ was entered. One of the BTEC Performing Arts students – Sarah D, directed the piece.

The piece explored feminism, equality, social media and mental health and balances comedy and hard-hitting messages. The 5 actors involved, all Performing Arts students at QE – Kate S, Grace Q, Isobel B, Katrianna T and Holly R, played a variety of characters across the piece to brilliantly communicate the funny, yet important commentary on society.


The judges commented on the winning piece:

‘Well done to the entire company! The group dynamics displayed, from the outset, were positive showing an engaging sense of purpose, faithful to your chosen theme and its dramatic content.

You listened and interacted well, especially those placed and reacting on the periphery at any given time. There was an interesting and creative use of the stage area and positioning was, by and large, effective.

You presented an emotive theme, which built towards a challenging climax. Well done again!’

QE also entered the Acting Monologue Competition for 16-18 Year olds. Student Grace Q performed a speech from ‘Shaker’ by John Godber and Sarah D performed a piece from ‘Top Girl’ by Caryl Churchill.

Both actors are currently training on the BTEC Performing Arts Extended Diploma and have worked on the speeches for use in BTEC Units and as they prepare for Drama School auditions. Grace took first place and Sarah took second place.

Grace said:

It was a great opportunity to virtually take part in this festival – it’s amazing that we were still able to participate in this competition despite the lockdown rules. I’m very pleased to have won the Drama Acted Monologue event as well as winning the Drama Group Acted Scene event with some of my classmates and can’t wait to take part in the next North London Festival.

Sarah said:

I really enjoyed taking part the virtual festival! It was an amazing chance to showcase what I can do as a young actor. It’s very fortunate that I have been able to take part in the festival despite the Covid-19 pandemic. I am very pleased that my directed performance of a scene from When They Go Low won the Drama Group Acted Scene event, I am also very happy with receiving second place for the Drama Acted Monologue event! I am looking forward to taking part in more North London Festivals in the future.


Justine Langford, Creative Director of the King’s Theatre at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, said:

This is another fantastic achievement for our BTEC Performing Arts students. All 3 pieces that we entered into the festival received Distinction grades, and I am very proud of the entire group. They deserve the recognition and have worked tirelessly to keep all of their performance skills under constant development even during the challenges of lockdown.


The North London Festival of Music, Speech and Drama was founded in November 1920 by a group of  North London musicians, including music critics John Graham and Herman Klein. In the early years, the Festival was supported by eminent musicians including Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and Dame Clara Butt. The Festival was launched at the Northern Polytechnic Institute in Holloway Road, at a time of significant growth in Music Education.

The King’s Theatre is the hub of Performing Arts at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate; a full scale professional venue with a seating capacity of over 300 which inspires in students a love of performing to different audiences. Many of QE’s past Performing Arts students have gone on to study at acclaimed drama schools such as the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the New York Film Academy, the London Academy of Music and Drama (LAMDA) and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).

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