19th May 22
The Drama Department are always busy and this term has been seen The Phoenix Theatre constantly buzzing with rehearsals and performances. We caught up with some of the students who have taken to the stage.
First up we spoke to A level Theatre Studies students Lili-Kitty and Ellie about their devised two-woman play.
Tell us about your play?
Lili-Kitty: “Our play was called ‘The Impurity of a Woman’ and it followed a young women called Miss Belinsky who has been assaulted at a party. The drama made links back to moments in history where women have been demonised, such as Witch Trials. We also made links to certain criteria women had to meet to appear desirable like corsets or ‘ how to be the perfect housewife’ commercials in the USA. We explored the idea that even though it’s Belinsky who has been assaulted, due to history and internalised misogyny, she was always going to lose.”
Ellie: “As Lili said it was about the negative ways in which women have been presented throughout history despite the control exercised over them by men. We wanted to create irony between the things women are shamed for (e.g. clothing, drinking, flirting) and the historical influences that men have had over this behaviour through objectifying women.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced working towards the performance?
Lili-Kitty: “The biggest challenge I faced was reading testimonials on Everyone’s Invited as part of my research. New stories were posted every day and it just showed me how important our piece was and how much these women needed a voice and to be heard. I really wanted our piece to be a voice for those women who didn’t feel like they could take their cases to court or tell anyone , even their parents, about what had happened to them. It shocked me because it showed me that these people who have been assaulted could be your friends, they could be your sister, a family member. You really don’t know anybody else’s story and I really encourage anybody to go on Everyone’s Invited and read these peoples’ stories because they deserve to be heard.”
Ellie: “My biggest challenge with this performance was stage fright as I am always nervous before shows. I was nervous about how the audience would respond to the piece especially due to the sensitive topics covered.”
What did you enjoy about devising and performing your own work?
Lili-Kitty: “My favourite part was seeing it all come together and seeing the amazing set that we created in The Phoenix with the help of Lucy, Matt, and Rob. It was amazing to hear the positive feedback from audience members and to be able to tell the story we’ve been working so hard on creating for weeks. It was a really rewarding feeling when it was done. I also just love acting in The Phoenix, it’s such a great space to be creative.”
Ellie: “I’m very proud of myself and my partner. We worked well together throughout the project, and it was very enjoyable working with someone so talented. I usually find teamwork very difficult, but I had a really great time working through this project with Lili and seeing each of our individual influences over the piece when we performed it. There’s something very satisfying about performing your own work as you feel that bit prouder to show it off especially when it gets a positive response from the audience. It was very nerve wracking at the start but when the piece is your own, you have a freedom as nobody else knows how it is meant to appear meaning that I relaxed into the piece as it went on.”
Y12 UAL Performance & Production Arts students Bertie and Jacob took on a Harold Pinter play, ‘The Dumb Waiter’ as part of their course. Bertie told us about it:
Tell us about preparing for your performance?
“We have to do a Pinter play as one of the units of the UAL course and Lucy helped us to choose this one. It works because it fits us quite well. At the beginning we kind of struggled to understand it if I’m honest. We didn’t like Pinter that much because it was difficult to get a grasp of his language because he’s his plays are part of a genre called ‘Theatre of the absurd’, so they don’t really make much sense on the surface level!
It’s only when we started to research and look into the subtext underneath that we began to understand the themes and what the play is really trying to say. So towards the end of rehearsals we actually did a complete one-eighty and really started liking the play and his and his style of writing.
And how did the performance go?
The final performance went really well and we were very happy with how how it turned out. It was really enjoyable and unique performing experience as it’s a one act play, there are no breaks and we’re on stage for the whole 50 minutes. There’s no scene changes or anything, so we were on stage performing the whole time and I’ve never done anything like that. It was a unique and strange, but really insightful piece to perform and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from from doing it.”