Bell baxter lives section I former Pupils Contents

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Graeme Dallas

During the Session 1952-3 the School took part in the "Top of the Form" quiz on the radio. The School team of David Lindsay, Alasdair Breckenridge, Robert Bridges and Graeme Dallas was defeated by Leytonstone High School for Girls.

Helen Darbyshire

Helen Darbyshire (2001) won a place in 2007 at the Royal Scottish Academy for Music and Dance. She has studied at ‘The Space’ in Dundee and had to go through 3 rounds of auditions to gain her place in the prestigious academy.

From The Courier:

This year, the ensemble is presenting a re-telling of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, but it's not as relaxing as it may sound. Every year, the theatre takes on two drama graduates and they will be playing the lead roles of Princess Briar Rose and Prince Owain.

Both Helen Darbyshire (21) and Tony McGeever (26) graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow in July with BAs and have a year-long contract with the company.

To the outside world, it may seem as if they've been thrown in at the deep end, but the pair already have a wealth of stage and screen experience and admit they are more excited than nervous about getting started.

"We were quite lucky as we had a good course that allowed us to work in different settings such as television and radio as well as on stage," Helen says.

"It really hits you when you are standing in the wings waiting to go on and you can hear the audience; especially the children laughing and shouting out."

Helen is from Cupar and attended Bell Baxter High School, while Tony hails from Edinburgh and went to Stewart's Melville College. The pair auditioned against fellow students from RSAMD, Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and also establishments south of the border.

Tony only started his contract in late October, while Helen is a little ahead, having already appeared in the autumn production A Doll's House.

"I played the nanny, Anne-Marie, and this was really good as I was introduced to the ensemble and got used to the way they work with my first show, not having a huge part but being able to do enough and observe.

"It was really great fun and a fantastic play to be a part of because it was so well received by audiences."

Rep mentor

Helen was also on good terms with one of the ensemble's most distinguished members before she'd even begun her contract.

"In our last year of drama school you had the chance to get a mentor in the profession and, way before the auditions for the graduate scheme, I asked Irene Macdougall — and she accepted. I was very pleased.

"As a child I did youth theatre and ballet — all the kinds of performing that little girls like to do. I was also very lucky because the drama department at my school was very good.

"One of my sisters went to Dundee College and did an HNC in acting and performance. From everything she said I really wanted to try it. I did the same course for a year before applying to RSAMD."

And this came from the Fife Herald in January 2011:

TWO talented north east Fife women have played a leading role in bringing Christmas cheer to hundreds of children across Fife and Tayside.

Helen Darbyshire from Cupar and Newport woman Jill Skulina, who is originally from Freuchie, are both involved in Dundee Rep Theatre's pantomime Sleeping Beauty which runs until January 8.

Former Bell Baxter High School pupil Helen has a starring role as the beautiful but cursed princess Briar Rose while visual artist Jill, who works in wardrobe maintenance, has had the interesting task of making puppets which appear in the production.

Helen said she was delighted to have been given the chance to play one of the lead characters in the show.

"I think I have always been interested in acting, singing and dancing/' said Helen, who was a member of Cupar Junior Opera Society and Yvonne Gray's dance school as well as an active member of her high school drama department.

"After school I went to Dundee College to do an HNC in acting and performing and was then lucky to get a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

"I graduated from there in July and joined the Rep as one of their two graduates."

"I am delighted to have been given the chance to play Briar Rose," said Helen. "I love the childlike side to playing her as an energetic 12-year-old, it works really well with our young audiences."


Playing Sleeping Beauty in the time leading up to her 16th birthday when she pricks her finger has been more of a challenge, however, as Helen said that although she is only 21 she finds it hard to remember what it was like to be 15.

"Twelve-year old Briar Rose is a bit easier as I can interact with the young audience and pick up on their behaviour and the reaction I get from them," she explained.

"She has so much childish energy and runs about and does sword-fighting so it can be quite exhausting.

"At least I get to sleep for 100 years afterwards!

With a total of 53 shows to perform during the pantomimes 6 weeks run, including many days when there are both matinee and evening performances she said the support from her fellow cast members has been vital.

Being just 10 of us in total - a cast of eight plus our musical director and set designer - it is like a little family and we all spend time together when we're not on stage/' said Helen. "It has been a fabulous experience and great fun."

Helen, who has been living at home with her dad in Cupar and travelling to Dundee every day - despite the weather - said she hopes to continue acting in Scotland once her contract at the Rep finishes.

"I have a week's holiday to relax once Sleeping Beauty finishes then we'll be right into rehearsals for Little Voice in which I'm playing the lead, Elvie," she said. "There are four shows in the spring season before my contract ends so I'm looking forward to those."

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