Tag Archives: De Montfort University

Interview with the cast of Fen

As I haven’t been involved in the show, I thought readers may like to hear from the cast themselves. Cast includes first year Drama student Sarah, second years Hannah Putnam, Katharina, Amy and Becca Robson as well as Performing Arts student Alex, and third years Becca Cooper, Hannah Abbott, Jonny and Kirsty as well as their stage manager, Gina.

Q How has this experience been for you?

Amy: Really good
Hannah A: Yeah, it’s good to feel part of a company.

Becca C: Eye opening. I know Caryl Churchill was a varied playwright but I had no idea she was this dark. Tim’s made it a whole lot darker. It’s amazing to see how a director can bring out the potential in a play.

Becca R: Amazing. Acting is something I was considering but wasn’t sure about so this has been amazing to work in a professional company. Tim has been good for setting up a professional atmosphere and expects us to work to a high level. It’s good for me to know how it works and that it’s what I want to do.

Hannah P: Amazing, great to work with people of the industry, costume and sound. I’ve not done a production this big before.

Kirsty: This time round everyone is at rehearsal together so the company are really close.
Even when you’re not in the scene, you’re still in it. It’s like there’s more excitement when something awesome happens.

Gina: This experience has been amazing, it’s helped my develop so many skills and i feel especially proud to be the first student to work on the production side of a collaboration project

Alex: This experience has been a great one for me! I have been so privileged to be a part of it and would like to thank everyone involved for making this so perfect for me!

Katharina: It has been (well, still is :)) a very special experience for me. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the time with the cast has been wonderful. It’s such a great chance to perform at a theatre like Curve, which keeps you motivated to do your best. It has been very challenging as well, you get pushed to your boundaries and beyond, but it helps you to improve. And we had a lot of fun as well!

Q What have you gained from this experience?

Becca C: Acting experience. It’s so demanding – so many things I have to do with little lines. Also the friends I’ve made and the sense of community has been really lovely.

Sarah: More experience, it’s been more professional than anything else I’ve been in – I was in one other show which was a lot different.

Hannah P: Confidence. Tim isn’t the kind of director who tells you each position, he just gives you the overall idea and it gives you that confidence as an actor.

Kirsty: I’ve learnt to act bigger, I tend to do quite small acting. It was difficult but good to learn.
Hannah P: Pushes you.

Gina: I have gained so much experience working with curve and have developed some great contacts that I know I’ll be using in the future.

Alex: I have gained so much from this experience. Coming from the Performing Arts course rather than the Drama course, I started out feeling a lot less confident about my abilities than maybe some of the other performers. However after taking part, I have learnt so much in the way of acting and becoming stronger and more natural, and have made some brilliant friends along the way who I hope to be friends with for a long time!

Katharina: I have learned some new approaches and methods concerning character development, textual work and blocking. Tim is always very interested in little details and reminds us to think about each pause, each full stop. It is brilliant to see how much you can get from the play text! I’ve also gained more confidence in performing in English, as this is still a lot more difficult for me. We all became friends throughout the rehearsals and I’m sure we’ll keep in contact after the show.

Jonny: A massive boost in confidence. I have a bigger swagger in me step. I’ve liked learning different styles of acting, I feel extremely lucky to have been given these opportunities.

Q How does this compare to previous years?

Becca C: Greek pushed me physically, as in my physical boundaries but this has pushed me emotionally. Two different experiences with two very different directors. Adele brought out the style of the play whereas Tim works on emotions of characters.

Becca R: I didn’t even know this was a thing. I saw Laramie last year and thought Holy Bananas, was blown away by the standard of the performance and asked the cast how to get involved. Jonny and Kirsty told me to look out for the e mail from Roger at the beginning of the year and here I am!

Alex: I did not take part in last year’s production, although I went to see it and loved it! I have found that this year has been the perfect one for me to start on and I hope to continue this into the next year!

Katharina: I didn’t know that there was the possibility to take part in the show last year – I didn’t get any information about it. I would have been to scared to audition anyway I guess, as I just moved to England last year.

Q Do you feel this would help towards a career in acting?

Amy: Yeah, I’ve wanted it more since doing this.
Hannah: Good for lecturers to see you act

Amy: What you do at uni is …weird so it’s good to do real acting.

Becca C: Working in professional environement is different from uni, being directed is much more satisfying to the devising we do in class. I’m hoping to do an MA in acting.

Gina: This project has shown me that i do want to be a stage manager in the future, i know that i want to be taking a MA in a few years and i believe this will help me gain a place on a prestigious course.

Alex: Absolutely! As a Performing Arts student, I learn more about contemporary styles of performance, so to add one more string to my bow is always helpful!

Katharina: I do hope so – you need as much experience as you can get. It’s good to be able to provide some evidence of what shows you have been involved with.

Jonny: Because of the first experience I had with Greek, it encouraged me to persue acting and get involved with Off the Fence. Infact, a Leicestershire theatre group saw me in Greek and took me to Edinburgh.

Q How does this compare to other shows you have done?

Hannah A: This is more relaxed, some directors can be impatient

Amy: But you still get stuff done

Becca R: It was interesting to work with my local drama club where the cast were quite adult so this is interesting because of the younger cast, it’s a different dynamic. I prefer this because its more professional, the community feel is down to Tim having everyone here, I reckon Fen will always have a special place in my heart.

Gina: I’ve always been interested in stage management and my friends encouraged me to go for this role. To be honest I didn’t expect to be the official stage manager, I thought I’d be an assistant so I was very surprised.

Alex: Without a doubt the best show I’ve done! I have enjoyed every second, and would like to thank everyone involved for this experience, and hope everybody enjoys the show!!

Katharina: It’s really different from everything I have done before, simply because this is probably the biggest live performance I have ever been involved in. It’s the first time I have worked with a professional director, which makes such a big difference. It’s so good to have someone to tell you if you’re doing a good or a bad job and who can instruct you. It’s also very different, as we’re all almost on stage all the time. It’s also great to see that everyone is fully committed, so it truly feels like a collaborative group work!

Jonny: I was in last year’s Curve Community production of Oliver! And I found these DMU Collaborations to be more professional, you’re held to a higher standard. Whilst this is a great opportunity for us we are held to these responsibilities to give you experience of being a professional actor, we are working under Curve’s name so we don’t want to show them up!

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Fen Blog 3

Today is the casts last Wednesday rehearsal before their full week of tech and dress runs next week. As I haven’t visited for a while, the setup is more extensive as they now have a smashing brown carpet to represent their field, amongst many more props I’ve not seen before. Before they begin, the cast are practicing the ‘Harlem Shake’ – not sure this is part of the play!
I feel a bit lonely as the cast leave the room to talk to Demon FM. I’m pleased to see that they are taking an interest this year and that students are helping to promote their fellow students, it really heightens this production as being about the talent of DMU students. Everyone reappears in their costumes; they all look fetching in their light denim jeans, woolly jumpers and flowery housewife aprons. Tim surprises the group with metal buckets which they all seem especially excited about, particularly Becca who has to sit on one – Time does an impression of how she would sit on the plastic one, you can imagine.
Tim is telling everyone about their visitors for this evening – production team and set designers as well as photographers. He tells the cast that Curve’s photographer Pamela Raith will be taking photos of their tech rehearsal and that the cast can have copies for their CV. This is excellent for the cast members thinking about a professional career in acting and is an added bonus to this experience in general.
The first scene they run through is intense, frightening. The costume adds to the atmosphere but the acting has come on even more since my last visit.
I can’t continue much more as the cast then did a full run through and to explain how it went would be giving too much away. All I know is that I left the theatre feeling really emotional and I wasn’t sure why! A sure sign of brilliant acting and directing, of course. Read my interview with the cast to find out exactly how this experience has been for them.

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Review: Gypsy

Wednesday 4th April 2012 was one of those days where you’re given every possible sign that the best thing to do would be to stay indoors. It started raining long before I woke up, it began snowing whilst I was busy doing the ironing and the wind was so loud that it frequently woke me up the night before. Yes, I think that sounds like the perfect reason to stay at home, curled up on the sofa with a cup of something hot. 

I, on the other hand, was defiant in the face of the elements because I wasn’t prepared to let a little thing like ‘bad weather’ get in the way of me finally seeing Gypsy at Curve. So, armed with what turned out to be a weak umbrella that I ended up shoving in the nearest bin after it turned upside-down for the tenth time, narrowly avoiding a little old lady, I made my way to the theatre.

If you think about it, on a day like the one I described above, there’s not much left to do in Leicester (or anywhere else for that matter) apart from shop, visit a museum (Newarke Houses Museum & Gardens near De Montfort University is my personal favourite), watch a movie, etc – generally anything that involves staying indoors. However, in my opinion, the best thing to do when the weather is a total buzz-kill is to watch a show at Curve.

When I eventually arrived at the theatre (looking like a drowned rat) there was definitely excitement in the air and everyone was in good spirits, unified in their anticipation of the show. I, predictably, made a beeline for the restrooms and it was seriously jam-packed with ladies. The topic of conversation, of course, was the rubbish weather and everyone was busy fixing their hair, in addition to drying their hats, hair, scarves and leggings – okay, that last one was just me!!

Photo of Caroline O’Connor as Momma Rose by Pamela Raith

Once we were allowed into the theatre to take our seats, the excitement in the air just intensified. My friend Ricky and I had great seats and we had a good view of the stage and the audience – I like looking at the reaction of the audience sometimes (sorry, I’m weird like that!!).
The show itself was excellent, which I knew it would be, but it far exceeded my already high expectations. The star of Gypsy was Caroline O’Connor, who brings Mommaa Rose to live and has a great set of lungs on her. I was completely and utterly blown away by her voice, especially when she sang Rose’s Turn – WOW!

See below for Bette Midler’s version.

Whilst Caroline might have been the star, the entire cast performed their parts really well, with many of them having just starred in Curve’s Christmas show (42nd Street). I was particularly impressed by the imaginative use of the stage, which always seems to be the case when it comes to Paul Kerryson and the scene in which the younger kids are transformed into their older selves. The scene uses some strobe lighting effects and I’m sure I heard some sort of flickering sound (like a filmstrip), making it look like you’re looking at an old film strip via a projector. I know that probably makes no sense, but it’s so cool!!

The audience really seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout the show, in particular the chaps that Gypsy Rose Lee directed one of her onstage jokes at. At the end of the show, at least 20 people stood up to give Caroline a standing ovation and she 100% deserved it.

If you’ve not seen the show yet, fear not because there’s still time to get your hands on the hottest tickets in Leicester. Click HERE to go to Curve’s website and enjoy the incredible show that is Gypsy. Check out the tailer below, which is sure to entice you!!

Have you seen Gypsy? What did you think? Weren’t the costumes amazing? I want some of those feathers!! Feel free to pop your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Review: The Laramie Project

Whilst many people across Leicester were hitting the (alcohol) bottle, catching up with friends after a busy week or packing to go to Egypt (okay, that’s probably just my sister!!), me and a couple of my friends decided to go and see ‘The Laramie Project’ at Curve theatre. Now, this wasn’t the way that I usually like to spend my Friday nights, but I was so glad that I decided to swap catching up with ‘Jersey Shore’ to go and support my fellow DMUers.

I purposely didn’t research anything about the play because I wanted to see it with an open mind, but I was aware that ‘The Laramie Project’ had something to do with the murder of a gay university student named Matthew Shepard. Due to the fact that ‘The Laramie Project’ was a collaborative partnership between De Montfort University and Curve, I knew it wouldn’t be like anything else I had previously seen at the theatre. However, I was certain that it would be excellent!!

The play itself was split into two acts, with a twenty minute interval in between, and whilst it might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it was definitely mine. Seriously, I was captivated right from the beginning up until the very end. I was so impressed by the acting and the way that it sort of dived straight into the story. You found yourself chucked in the middle of everything, trying to piece it all together. In addition, I liked the fact that the actors were addressing the audience throughout the play – bar two scenes (I think), because it kind of made it more personal and made me feel more involved.

I think the reason why I was so moved by the play (like many others, I’m sure) is because it’s a true story and uses the actual dialogue of the people of Laramie who were involved, people who are actually alive today. In fact, I was so moved by the play that as soon as I got home, I started researching the story myself and spent the next morning watching the 2002 film with the same name. In both the play I watched on Friday and the 2002 film, I found the monologue by the actor portraying Matthew’s father Dennis incredibly moving because in all the drama of it all, you sometimes forget that Matthew was someone’s son, brother, grandson, and friend.

Personally, I can’t believe that incidences like this can and do occur, because the way I see it is; love is love regardless of gender, age, religion and all the other constraints that people have placed on it. Hopefully, one day everyone will be able to look beyond the social constraints that have been placed on love and accept it for what it really is.

The DMU students involved in ‘The Laramie Project’ did an excellent job. They’re so talented and I hope to see them on stage again at some point in the near future.

If you’ve seen The Laramie Project or if you’ve got an opinion about the play/incident/etc, feel free to pop your thoughts in the comments box below.

Priya

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