Nativity Play at Hanford
Hanford’s Nativity Play, performed this weekend by LVith and VIth form girls, marked the beginning of the school’s Christmas celebrations. The play is as much an act of worship as it is theatre, and contains some truly beautiful choral music. It was written specially for Mrs Canning, Hanford ‘s founder, in 1960 by Donald Kittermaster who had been Headmaster of The King’s School, Worcester before joining Hanford to teach English. Mr Kittermaster based his play on the Gospels of Luke and Matthew and wrote it with the Hall in Hanford in mind.
The first girl to take the role of Mary was Emma Kirkby, who later became the famous Dame Emma, the great soprano. The costumes, some of which were given by Lady Rockley from the Amhurst Collection, are used every year and give the play not only its colour but add a sense of authenticity and history. Mrs Canning, who encouraged girls to develop an interest in History of Art, wanted to recreate tableaus from Renaissance paintings: particularly works by Botticelli, Guido Reni and Murillo. It has been performed every Christmas since 1960 and its appeal is timeless.