Ever since Laurence Olivier, the first director of the National Theatre, first trod the boards as a pupil at St Edward’s back in 1921, the school has contributed to the performing arts in many ways. Meet some of the school’s former pupils and graduates of the North Wall’s pioneering ArtsLab residential arts placements who now enjoy high-profile roles in the creative industries


  •  Laurence Olivier 1921-1924 

Arguably Britain’s greatest-ever actor, he cut his theatrical teeth in St Edward’s productions of Shakespeare plays, appearing as a singer in The Merchant of Venice in his first term at the school – he sang as a treble and later a tenor in the school choir – and playing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1923.

He clearly made a mark on the audience, with fellow pupil Bob Mortimer, who later became the Bishop of Exeter, describing it as “by far the most notable performance, though a little too robust and jovial!”.

Lord Olivier declined a number of invitations to return to the school later in his life, but agreed to the playing at the centenary celebration in 1963 of his reading of former pupil Robert Gittings’s poem September 3, 1939, and extracts of the soundtrack of his filmed performances of Richard III.

In 1981, he spent two days at St Edward’s to film scenes for an TV version of john Mortimer’s play A Voyage Round My Father.

  • Emilia Clarke 2000-2005

Emilia Clarke achieved global fame for her role as Daenerys Targaryan, the Mother of Dragons, in the medieval fantasy TV drama Game of Thrones, for which she received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. She appeared in a number of shows during her time at St Edward’s, including Twelfth Night and West Side Story, before going on to study acting at the Central St Martins Drama Centre in London.

Since getting her big break in Game of Thrones, she has starred on Broadway in New York as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and landed film roles as Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys in 2015 and Louisa Clark in romantic comedy Me Before You.

  • James Adkins 2005-2010

James Adkins is a video and media programmer and technician, working with major names in the music industry, including Queen, The Pet Shop Boys, The Human League and Sarah Brightman, and at music festivals.

He became interested in the technical side of the entertainment industry while at St Edward’s and worked on a range of performances and events at The North Wall alongside professionals, then studied Technical Theatre Arts at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

He said: “If it wasn’t for my experiences at The North Wall, I certainly wouldn’t have had such a vast understanding and knowledge when entering the industry.”

  • Florence Pugh 2009-2014 

Florence is an actress and was named a Breakthrough Brit of 2016 by BAFTA and won the Evening Standard’s Breakthrough of the Year Award last month. She won her first film role aged 17 while in the sixth form at St Edward’s, playing Abbie Mortimer in The Falling, about a mysterious fainting epidemic at a girls’ school in the 1960s. At St Edward’s she was a regular cast member in school productions, including Romeo and Juliet.

After leaving school, she landed the title role in the film Lady Macbeth, which won the International Federation of Film Critics’ prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival and is sue for release in the UK on April 28. Her next film, The Commuter, an action thriller starring Liam Neeson, is due to for release in October.

  • Max Narula 2006-2011

Max is a lighting designer working on theatre, opera and opera productions, with shows for the Royal Opera, Royal Ballet and Walt Disney Imagineering among his credits.

He has recently been working on Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical and is about to join the creative team for Gary Barlow’s new musical based on the hit film Calendar Girls.

His interest in the field was sparked by working on productions at The North Wall and he won the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Technical Theatre Arts course’s prestigious Gold Medal in 2014. He is also a photographer and has taken photos for productions at the National Theatre in London and the Public Theater in New York.

  • Sebastian de Souza 2006-2011

Oxford-born Sebastian made his professional acting debut aged 17, playing Matty Levan in E4’s TV drama Skins, while still at St Edward’s.

He was awarded a drama and music scholarship by the school, where he appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck, Pip in Great Expectations and played the title role in Henry V, which earned him a drama prize in 2010.

After Skins, he landed parts in TV dramas The Borgias and Crossing Lines and last year featured in US drama Recovery Road. He also wrote the screenplay for the film Kids in Love, a coming-of-age drama released last year, in which he appeared alongside Cara Delevingne and Will Poulter.

  • Pippa Bennett-Warner 2001-2006

Pippa made her big stage debut at the age of 11 in the London cast of the The Lion King.

She was more interested in singing and music before St Edward’s but then fell in love with drama, with her roles in school plays including Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest. She was encouraged by Lucy Maycock, the then head of drama, to apply to RADA, though she deferred her place for a year to take a role in the National Theatre’s 2006 production of the musical Caroline, or Change.

Since graduating in 2010, she has starred as Cordelia alongside Derek Jacobi as King Lear, appeared at the Lyceum, National and Donmar Warehouse theatres and her TV credits include playing Saibra in Doctor Who in 2014. 

  • Mark Quartley 1998-2003 

Mark recently played Ariel in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Tempest, which has just ended its run at Stratford-upon-Avon and will transfer to the Barbican in London in July.

His father Nick, a classics teacher at St Edward’s and the first manager of the North Wall, was involved in amateur dramatics and got him interested in drama. He appeared in productions of Antigone and Macbeth while in the sixth form before going on to train at RADA.

His professional acting roles have included appearances at London theatres including The Globe, the hyper-intelligent snack machine in TV comedy Red Dwarf and playing the illegitimate German son of Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff in the spoof documentary series Hoff the Record.


  • Kayode Ewumi August 2014

Kayode Ewumi is an actor and film-maker. He grew up on the Aylesbury Estate in South East London, which he said “taught me the art of understanding and communicating with every kind of person, every creed and colour”.

After being accepted to study journalism at Coventry University, he switched courses to theatre and graduated in 2015. A YouTube mockumentary about a singer/dancer/actor extraordinaire that he and two friends wrote and filmed, called #HoodDocumentary, attracted the attention of BBC Three and they were commissioned to make six more shorts, broadcast online last year. He has since landed another TV role as Mr Conway in the revival of the comedy Are You Being Served?

He said: “ArtsLab is an amazing initiative and helped me at the beginning of my career. A friend told me about the auditions and I literally just rocked up, performed my monologue and got placed on the summer residency in 2014.

Since then The North Wall has asked me to come back twice in a professional capacity which gave me a glimpse of what the acting industry is like. I am now writing and creating independent work which is something the North Wall really encouraged and supported.”

  • Catriona Kerridge August 2012

Catriona developed her interest in playwriting on the Young Writers programme at London’s Royal Court Theatre, before winning a place on the ArtsLab summer residential course in 2012, where she wrote the first draft of her play Fast Track, staged at The North Wall in October 2014. Subsequent writing credits include Mirror Me, co-written with Louise Gooding, which was performed at Barking Theatre, Greenwich Theatre and Pleasance Edinburgh and she has also worked on Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg’s project Two Pigeons Perching on a Bench.

She said: “Being part of ArtsLab is something I will always cherish. Something happened over those weeks, something clicked.” 

  • Alex Berry August 2011

Alex turned up to The North Wall for an ArtsLab audition with a book of sketches and paintings, saying “I think I’d like to be a theatre designer” and was invited to be an assistant designer on the 2011 ArtsLab production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. Lucy Maycock then asked her to design the set for St Edward’s school play, Romeo and Juliet.

She was then accepted on the theatre design MA course at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Since graduating, she has been working as a freelance theatre designer, with sets for the North Wall’s productions Dead on Her Feet, Fast Track and Song of Riots on his CV.

The North Wall also changed her life in another way – she met her partner there and they now have a baby son.