We are very fortunate to not only welcome a brand new team to our festival this year but one that looks set to really spice things up in our youth section!
C6 Productions is a group selected from the brightest and best from Commonweal School’s sixth form performing arts students. All are aged eighteen or under! They certainly exemplify just what’s so brilliant about young drama and the incredibly positive role theatre plays in education.
They got in touch a few days ago to tell us about their play, their group and what our lucky audiences have in store for them at our Special Seventieth Anniversary Festival this year.
‘Playhouse Creatures: a dramatic comedy written by April De Angelis. Under the directorship of the school’s headteacher Keith Defter the play is performed by Yr 12 A Level Drama students Charlotte Delfino, Emma Booth, Emma Skane-Lawrence, Eve Batten and Rachel Winney who is in Yr 11.
Keith Defter – director and drama teacher: “The play was chosen because it was their GCSE practical piece – they had to do a section but enjoyed it so much they wanted to do the whole thing. Having presented it at the In Tents and Purposes evening last autumn it was clear to me that we had a cracking play and 5 outstanding performers, whose talents needed to be seen by a wider audience. Given the play’s length and content the one act festival seemed an ideal platform.
My role has simply been to pull the performance together, co-ordinate the rehearsals and offer a few dramatic insights – the real work has been done by the girls who are hugely focused and capable.”
Eve Batten plays Mrs Farley, Emma Booth – Nell Gwyn, Emma Skane-Lawrence – Doll, Charlotte Delfino is Mrs Marshall and Rachel Winney is Mrs Betterton
Eve Batten: “Miss Birkbeck, our teacher in Year 11, recommended the play to us as it features a strong all female cast, which she thought would suit us. She also knew how close friends we all were and wanted to use that connection on stage with these characters.
At the beginning, it took a while for us to warm to the play because it was so different from anything we had ever done. We had never really done any piece of theatre so far back in history, and the characters were all very bold and individual and we wanted to portray them correctly. However, we began to love it and the characters became a part of us. We were able to learn how to act as characters not from current day, and I feel as though our bond as friends strengthened because we were able to bring this piece of theatre alive together.
The best part was the rehearsals. Some people may think that this was the boring part, but to me it was the best because I spent it with my favourite people. There were be a few disagreements about staging and lines but they were quickly resolved and we were always laughing and just enjoying each other’s company.
Before getting on stage, I run through lines in my head to help me get into character. I try to think thoughts that she would and this helps me truly become Mrs Farley and perform to the best of my best ability.
We are very privileged that Mr Defter took so much interest in our piece after seeing a snippet of it at another event as he has truly helped us develop it further. He was able to look at the entire piece with a new eye and share his ideas and wisdom with us.
I want to pursue a career in performing arts as it is my passion. I love singing, acting and anything musical theatre related. My plan is to go to a performing arts university and then go into professional performing.”
Emma Booth: “I play Nell Gwyn, a sixteen year old girl who is full of spirit. We have been working with our characters on and off for a year now so we are very familiar with them.
Performing in Playhouse Creatures has helped me to develop my naturalistic acting and my comic timing. We are all very close friends which makes the experience even more enjoyable. We have so many inside jokes and rehearsals never fail to put our smile on our faces. We have enjoyed working with Mr Defter. He has helped us polish and perfect the piece we performed at GCSE as well as adding his own ideas. He has also done a very good job putting up with our giggling in rehearsals!”
‘The play is set around 1670, in the earlier part of the Restoration period, just before it starts to become a more respectable means of employment for a woman. These actresses, then, are the pioneers, fighting for their careers and a genuine status as artists equal with the male actors who have already achieved that distinction. The story follows Nell Gwynne from the moment when she first hears that the new theatre wants actresses to the end of her career and her choice to accept the beneficence of the King, as his mistress. This simple plotline is enriched by the stories of three other actresses who, in contrast to Nell, all fail to gain the respect of men, even though there is a wonderful moment when they are allowed to be equal shareholders in the company. All three of the others have to leave their chosen careers. Only Nell chooses to leave. The play is set in a framework of ‘the nether region,’ a kind of no-man’s land, perhaps hell, perhaps limbo. This is also set in a theatre – derelict and haunted by the ghosts of these early actresses. The play has a strong feminist message, a cry for equality, as raised by these early pioneers, which is designed to question our place as women even in today’s seemingly equal world.’
We are all very excited to see this play – if you are too don’t miss it! It’s on Saturday 1st April – the matinee session which starts at 2.15pm. Get your tickets NOW!!
Up Next: Opening night!
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Celebrating 70 years of the Harold Joliffe One-Act Play Festival 1947-2017