St Mary's Catholic College, Wallasey

St Mary's Catholic College
A Voluntary Aided Academy

A Midsummer Night's Dream Come True for Anthony

A Midsummer Night's Dream Come True for Anthony

A dream is about to come true for a former St Mary's student.

Primary school teacher Anthony Henry, now 54, will star in... 

The Royal Shakespeare Production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – in Stratford-upon-Avon.

And if that were not impressive enough, his role will also win him an honoured place on the official list of the nation’s Best Bottoms!

Anthony will portray one of the play’s major and perhaps most memorable character, Bottom the Weaver, appearing with professional actors in a co-production between amateur groups across the UK and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been chosen as the Play for the Nation to mark the celebration of 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare – and following a nationwide tour is being performed this month in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford, birthplace of the Bard.

Below: Anthony preparing for his part as Bottom

Now a teacher himself and married with three children, Anthony has paid tribute to his former teachers at St Mary’s, crediting them with his lifelong love of language and the theatre.

The keen amateur dramatist, who lives on the Fylde Coast, was one of St Mary’s earliest students…and therefore one of our ‘oldest’ alumni, joining us in 1973 at the lower school in Manor Road, Wallasey, before transferring to the present Wallasey Village site in 1976.

During his time at St Mary’s, his acting talents were brought to the fore by English and Drama teacher Mrs Eileen Eaves who encouraged his early efforts in Shakespearean roles in The Winter’s Tale and Hamlet.

As a member of the college fencing club, Anthony was even called upon to choreograph a duel between the character of Hamlet, played by fellow student Simon Maginn (now a professional author) and Anthony’s own character Laertes!

After leaving St Mary’s Sixth Form, he trained as a primary school teacher at Christ’s and Notre Dame Catholic College, Liverpool, and started his career at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, in Seacombe, before moving to Christ the King RC Primary School, Blackpool.

After moving to Poulton-le-Fylde he became a member of Poulton Drama, an association that has led to the stage of the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, and now the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford.

‘THANK YOU ST MARY’S…FOR LEADING ME TO A LIFELONG LOVE OF LANGUAGE’

He said: ‘As a teacher myself, I know only too well how rare it is for us to see the “fruits of our labours” – we may plant a seed in a particular pupil only for it come into bloom many years hence. I like to think that Eileen Eaves would have been pleased and proud to see one of her pupils on stage with the RSC.

‘I really do believe that without her passion for the theatre, and indeed that of the English Department at St Mary’s College, I would not be where I am now.’

He added: ‘So thank you, St Mary’s, and Mrs Eaves, for leading me to a lifelong love of language, in both its written and spoken form.’

Anthony’s book of poetry for children, Chapter in Verse, featuring 20 Bible stories, was published in 2014 by Matthew James Publishing.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Play for the Nation – is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon until July 16. Anthony will play Bottom in performances on 27 and 28 June.

Pictured above: Anthony with RSC actor Ayesha Dharker who plays Titania.

Below: Anthony (far left) with other members of Poulton Drama who will portray The Mechanicals, the troupe of players in A Midsummer Night's Dream who rehearse 'a play within a play'.

A group of actor's on Blackpool Grand Theatre stage, not in costume.

Above: Anthony (second from the right) in rehearsals 

Report by Elaine Webster

8 June 2016