Saturday, June 27, 2009
Kate Winslet stunned pupils at her old stage school by turning up at a rehearsal session.
The Oscar-winning actress, patron of Berkshire-based amateur dramatic group Starmaker, answered questions from budding actors and actresses before participating in a drama workshop.
Students had no idea Kate was in the building until the curtains were drawn back on the stage at Blessed Hugh Faringdon School, Southcote, Reading, where the rehearsals were taking place.
Reading-born Kate waved and blew kisses at the audience before asking for questions, telling pupils: "Don't be shy, because I am very normal.
"Some of the people in this room can absolutely vouch for that. Ask me questions, anything you like."
She reminisced about her days treading the boards at the stage school during the half-hour chat.
The mother-of-two said: "One of the best things about Starmaker is that everybody looks after each other, they really, really do, and there's nothing more exciting than your first opportunity of getting backstage in the theatre."
Asked for tips on overcoming first night nerves, she replied: "The great thing is when the lights come on you, you as the performers on the stage, you're so blinded by the lights, you can't see the audience, so it's fantastic. You don't have to be all nervous at all."
Kate watched rehearsals for pupils' forthcoming productions of Boogie Nights and Wizard Of Oz.
About 75 students gathered in the main hall of Blessed Hugh Faringdon School in Southcote for their regular Wednesday night rehearsals for their next production, Boogie Nights, completely unaware the award-winning Hollywood actress was just a few feet away behind a curtain.
Michelle Palin, membership secretary of Starmaker told getreading: “We got them there under false pretences because they had no idea Kate was going to be arriving.
“They were all sat there impatiently as teenagers do and we held open rehearsals for parents so they could see what we were doing with Kate as well.”
The mum-of-two was revealed as the curtains were drawn and she was greeted by a huge round of applause and cheering from the starstruck students.
Ms Palin said: “The atmosphere was electric.”
Students asked questions ranging from whether she preferred stage to film work to who she would most like to work with.
“All you could see around the room was kids texting about Kate being there,” said Ms Palin.
During the rehearsals Kate joined in with a drama workshop run by Ben Ashton, when she starred opposite aspiring actor Jack Kowalik.
Willink School pupil Jack, 15, said: “I was so starstruck because she was acting right next to me and I was thinking what if I do something really bad.”
Kate, 33 and originally from West Reading, also took time out of her busy schedule to watch students rehearse for their latest production Boogie Nights, to be performed at Wilde Theatre in Bracknell from October 6 to 10.
Starmaker is an amateur dramatic group for anyone aged 10 to 18 and this summer the club is running a Dance, Movement, Drama, Singing & Combat workshop summer school at Southlake Primary School in Woodley from August 24 to 28.