Proud to be a Headmistress: Moira Buffini’s ‘Dinner’ at the Edinburgh Fringe

The very last show I watched at the Edinburgh Fringe before heading back south for exam results week was a show for which I had especially extended my stay in Edinburgh by a day. It was the Fringe debut of a group consisting essentially of 2011 leavers from St Mary’s Calne, presenting an adapted version of Moira Buffini’s dark comedy thriller, Dinner, and it was more than worth prolonging my holiday for. In fact, there are some moments which make being a Headmistress entirely worthwhile, and this was one of them.

The performance went extremely well, and the 23 strong audience – a great number for a first show at 11am on a Sunday morning, with practically no prior publicity – was very appreciative. If there had been a reviewer there, I reckon the show would have received a 4+ star write-up. Lily Wakeley, who played Paige, and who was one of the driving forces behind the production initially, was stunning in her role, but enormous praise must go to all of the cast for the way in which they embraced challenging themes and equally challenging characters and dialogue, drawing out the very black humour while forcing us to confront some uncomfortable truths about ourselves. The acting was superb.

They were brilliant … and I was so, so proud of them. For the most part, I have seen these girls grow from pre-teenagers through the turbulent years of teenagehood, to become poised, grounded and intelligent young women, and it is a privilege to have helped guide them along the way. They are mature, insightful, confident without being over-confident, and absolutely attuned to the world. They have strong friendships, evident in the way in which they worked together for this production. They have a strong social conscience – when they performed the play earlier in the year in Calne, they raised almost £1,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society – and they plan to make a positive mark on the world.

Girls’ schools make a difference to girls and young women; they enthuse, embolden, encourage and empower. No further proof is needed than the young women themselves, several thousand of whom across the country have graduated this summer and are ready to embark on university, gap year and career. It makes me so proud to do what I do. Watch out, world!

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