press release
Published: 03 March 2021

Creativity and innovation enable Guildford School of Acting students to deliver free On Stage/On Screen Spring Season

By Laura Cox

Final year students at Guildford School of Acting (GSA) have developed a range of innovative and engaging ways to ensure they are able to safely produce a season of Covid-secure theatrical and musical productions this spring.

Students at the Guildford School of Acting performing a socially distanced Titanic production

The students, supported by GSA staff and external professional experts, are overcoming the challenges posed by Covid-19 to host the season, running from 9 March to 8 April. Shakespeare, history, politics, farm life and musical theatre feature, with all six shows being screened via an online live-stream, available anywhere.

The shows have all been selected, rehearsed and produced with Covid-security at the forefront of planning. This has seen all those involved get tested regularly and remain socially distanced, with choreography expanded to cover not just the stage, but also backstage areas. Restricted numbers of performers have attended rehearsals with directors often offering guidance remotely via Zoom or Teams. Pieces of set have been specially constructed to enable actors to store props, ensuring there is no cross-contamination. Performers fit their own costumes and radio microphones, with creative teams discovering fresh new interpretations of the scripts to communicate concepts like love and torture, which are normally expressed using touch.

Tickets are free for:

  • Titanic – The Musical, an epic story with epic music, inspired by the actual events of the infamous ship’s maiden voyage in 1912;
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare, which has a contemporary setting and aims to give the play’s younger characters a voice. It is being reduced in length, making it a perfect introduction to Shakespeare;
  • Image of an Unknown Young Woman by Elinor Cook, a play exploring the power of the visual image to focus and incite protest. When a video showing the police shooting a young woman goes viral, a revolution begins to stir. After Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the storming of the US Capitol, it couldn’t be more relevant;
  • Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti, which tells the true, untold story of Ira Aldridge, who shocked London society in 1833 when he became the first black actor to play Othello and who went on to become the highest-paid actor in Europe;
  • Babe, The Sheep Pig. Based on the best-selling children’s book and the internationally successful film, this show is a delight for all the family. Character, movement and music interweave to create a timeless tale with themes of honesty, trust and acceptance; and
  • Richard III by William Shakespeare, transported to Russia at the turn of the 21st Century and tackling what happens when leaders lie. Always a play that speaks to us of a world in crisis, the use of music in this production heightens the poignancy.

All GSA productions are assessment components of academic undergraduate and postgraduate programmes validated by the University of Surrey. With the shows also displaying students’ talents to help them find agents and kickstart their performance or backstage careers, the standards are like those found in professional productions.

Professor Sean McNamara, Head of Guildford School of Acting, said, “The ingenuity, creativity and imagination required to stage Covid-secure productions is inspiring. I’ve also been so impressed with the professionalism displayed by these young people as they’ve resolutely adhered to Covid procedures. While we’d all rather be in theatres in front of live audiences, the upside of this season’s approach is that more people, in any location, can watch the talent coming out of GSA. I’d urge anyone who wants to lose themselves in the magic of theatre to book tickets and enjoy the shows.”

 

Audiences can book to see online streaming of each recorded performance. Streaming will only be available at the advertised time and will not remain available to view beyond the time stated. Each recorded live production features the final year students of GSA’s BA or MFA programmes in collaboration with students on the BA Theatre Production programme. For more information or to book tickets please visit https://gsauk.org/events.

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