TES Independent Senior School of the Year 2021

"Virtually every parent would say they want their daughter to develop into a happy and confident young woman. At Notting Hill and Ealing they make it happen."

- Good Schools Guide

“Pupils are highly motivated to succeed and are exceptionally focused in their attitudes to learning.”

- ISI 2022

"We believe that Sixth Form should be the most interesting, enriching and academically demanding years of your school life. Each year, pupils join us with the intellectual spark and curiosity to take advantage of everything NHEHS has to offer, and leave with the drive and determination for their next adventure."

Registration deadlines:

Junior School

4+ Reception - 20.10.2023
7+ Year 3 - 08.12.2023

Senior School

To be confirmed

Sixth Form


“Pupils are highly motivated to succeed and are exceptionally focused in their attitudes to learning.”

- ISI 2022

"We believe that being part of a community matters, it involves reaching out to volunteer, raising funds for causes we care about, and sharing our spaces to build meaningful relationships. These collaborations are mutually enriching and enable our students to create connections beyond the school gates."

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- Mr Matthew Shoults, Headmaster

Reclaiming the Past and Rethinking Gender Roles with The Rover

By Ishita N, Year 10 Journalist Leader

The Rover is a very progressive and notable choice that is distinct to previous productions, so I interviewed Director of Drama, Mrs Moore about her choice of production and more.

How did you come across the play and what made it a good choice for the annual school production?

Mrs Moore: I first became aware of Aphra Behn, the playwright of the Rover, when I was at university. I was fascinated by her, and the fact that she was a woman in the 17th century and yet the most successful playwright of her era. It was the Restoration period, so for the first time theatres were legalised and actresses could finally be on stage and theatres became social, high class areas. There had been a significant transition from Puritanism where theatres were considered a breeding ground for illness and misbehaviour to an openness in seeing the sexual politics between men and women. The Rover follows those conventions including some controversial aspects of how men treat women but it also turns them on its head. We might not immediately see it, but there are many strong female voices, disregarding what the patriarchy around them is telling them to do and making choices for themselves. It actually has a quite radical protofeminist approach to the relationships between men and women. I first considered it when I joined the school because gender identity within this entire generation of young people is really important and as a school we strongly promote productions where all students can be comfortable with playing either male or female characters, so we thought the Rover was a really interesting choice.


One of the reasons that the Rover is such a bold choice of play is the fact that the original version features prostitutes, sexual harassment and the objectification of women. Do you feel the staging of such a production in a girls school helps reclaim the story and empower the students and if so, how?

Mrs Moore: I definitely think that it was reclaiming power and being curious about what is and isn’t acceptable. In the 17th century, mainly women who came from an affluent background and were virgins were considered marriageable, such as Helena and Florinda who are deemed “women of quality” but still make choices for themselves. There are also characters like Lucetta who tricks Blunt, taking all of his money by using her wit and sexuality and utilising her intelligence, contradicting the ideas that people held about courtesans. Angelica Bianca, a higher class courtesan who dazzles everyone with her beauty, is initially in charge of her destiny but Willmore wins her over, despite eventually cheating her. We justified that because we discussed as an ensemble where we felt things were appropriate or not without shying away from it. Our aim was to make a statement about the role of women in society, both then and now, to be conscious of and consider. It is important to look at the ways in which society shifts and changes but gender standards stay the same. As a school, we know that whether or not you identify as female, you should not be held back by anything. Who you are, your diversity and what you identify as are all things that should be celebrated within our community and given voice and that is why we chose the Rover, because it is about voice.

Your rendition of the play is set in the 1990s. How does the change in time period make the story more appealing and relevant to a modern audience and what made you do it?

Mrs Moore: In the 1990s, rave culture and Cool Britannia along with Tony Blair coming into government after a long stretch with Conservatism resulted in a change in opportunity and freedom which ran very parallel to the boom of opulence and liberty that the Restoration brought with Charles II. The soundtrack and dance culture along with the idea of possibilities and liberty were very apparent in the 1990s and it’s quite interesting to see how 90s trends have resurfaced for the current generation of youth so as the idea evolved I felt that this setting was the right place for it. The Blur song ‘Girls and Boys’ captured that idea of partying, but also how our identity with one another intertwines and it became a strong motif which we used both at the beginning and the end. It also fitted with the background of a nightclub which was my parallel link to the carnival since the original play is set in Carnival in Naples. We created Naples Nightclub as the location where the carnival takes place to contemporise it and incorporate fun aspects while linking it back to the original text.

Around the school, there is lots of suspense around the storyline of the Rover and the most well-known fact about it is that it involves prostitutes. Was the surprise and the risqué aspect of the plot a factor in its selection and do you think it is important to put on a show with such themes?

Mrs Moore: I wasn’t deliberately trying to be controversial, but Aphra Behn as a writer had a strong independent voice and she was brave, taking pride in her own success before it was considered acceptable. She also had a career as a political spy and she wrote erotic poems, making her radical for her time, trailblazing and fighting for a female voice well before that was even a possibility for many women. Everybody who has been involved in the production or has seen it will now know who she is and that is really powerful because we need to recognise strong female voices who are resolutely being progressive and challenging the convention of the patriarchal society that we still live in. Inevitably, there were rumours milling around that there was a bed-trick and prostitutes but these were conventions which were happening at the time. We are still in a world where these things are relevant, and Shakespeare, who came well before Restoration comedy, had many plays featuring prostitutes and bed-tricks. We study Shakespeare as part of the school curriculum, so maybe we should be studying Aphra Behn too.

The original play is set in the 17th century when attitudes to much of the events of the story would be very different to now. Were there many aspects of the story that needed adapting to suit a modern time period?

Mrs Moore: The Rover is really interesting as a Restoration Comedy in that it follows certain conventions of Restoration Theatre which, as a modern audience, we might have difficulties with. Since actresses were on stage for the first time, there was the opportunity for women’s bodies to be seen on stage because at the time, men wore breeches and hose but women wore long dresses covering their legs so crossdressing opened up the opportunity to see more of women’s bodies. This was to such an extent that people would pay money to sit on the stage and watch these comedies up close or even watch the actresses change in the dressing rooms. We stayed within the conventions of Restoration Theatre with the bed-trick but I also changed a lot of the language and cut the script significantly. I took out much of the sexual harassment and altered some of the language to make it more contemporary. I also edited the play with a collaborative response from my cast to decide what to remove. We wanted to modernise the old text and make it relevant to a contemporary audience and we wanted to nod to the Restoration but also revitalise it.

Many thanks to Mrs Moore for speaking with me and we cannot wait to see what she chooses next year!

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