By Matt Fletcher and Stephanie Bann
On Tuesday June 11th, the renowned Tobacco Factory Theatre saw the opening of the annual writers block residency. Throughout the week three pieces of theatre written by students of UWE and directed by staff will be on show to the public as a showcase of UWE Students’ creative writing pieces. The Drama students put their plays forward to directors and Drama teachers, Amanda, Craig and Scott who select which three they think should be performed at the Theatre in Southville, Bristol. After a careful casting process to find actors and tech crew among UWE students, the plays are presented to reflect UWE Drama department. “Craig Snelling directs Treasure House, By Daisy Cochran” Rosie- Lea Sparkle, actress in the play, tells WesternEye, “he chose the play and casted it. Each teacher also gets student co-directors, we got the pleasure of having Max Jones and Holly McGowan Hayes, so although Craig looks over the whole piece these two third year students were vital in the creative process and exploring the different directions we went with the play. It was a pleasure and delight to work along side these three creative directors! The night shows what can be achieved with a collaboration between students and teachers participation”.
To find out just what can be achieved from this collaboration, WesternEye sent Stephanie Bann to the opening night last night to report on what it was all about.
Opening night set the bench mark high, the audience was packed with supportive fellow students, laughing and crying at all the right moments. Kicking off the evening was ‘Treasure House’ by Daisy Cochran. The play focuses on the forgotten elderly who reside in a care home. On the surface it is comical, exploring the dynamics of the relationships between the patients. But this play has an undercurrent of sadness throughout. Looking at the way society shut the elderly away and treats them as children. I was amazed to see such a young cast take on the physicality attributes of elderly people so well. Every movement on stage is precise and slow; you can tell just how much work has been put in to creating each character.
Next was ‘Jerry and the dog’ by Tabitha Mayhead and Oliver Prain. An extremely physical piece of theatre, it consisted of a man and woman describing and re-enacting, in unison, their experiences with a troubling dog. This play had everyone in the theatre crying with laughter as the characters take on the persona and facial expressions of the dog they are describing. It is fast paced throughout and very well choreographed, making it impossible to look away.
To finish the evening there was ‘Again, Today’ written by James Tapp. A play in which two very different men, in an underground library, pass their time with cryptic conversations about love, hate, creativity, and dreams. One is cynical and the other hopeful, together they create a very likeable and funny duo. The play shifts from slap-stick humour to heart wrenching sadness very subtly, giving it an interesting and well balanced pace throughout.
Whether you’re a regular theatre goer or not, this is a great opportunity to see what your fellow students are capable of. The performance standard was brilliant in each play and definitely worth the £7 ticket (concession price). You can see the plays at The Brewery Theatre every evening at 8.15pm until Saturday the 15th.
The night itself incorporates all the aspects of the UWE drama department and the level of professionalism that the University has to offer. According to Rosie-Lea; “Students should go and see it to show their support for fellow student members, and to enjoy the hard work that we have all put in. Also, to witness a wonderful student and teacher collaboration I think it is important to show support, and if you’re a drama student you should love the theatre anyway! So come and enjoy!!”