Students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s BA Acting, BA Set Design & Production and from Coleg Sir Gâr are looking forward to collaborating together to perform a stage production of ‘The Visit’ by Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
The students will perform a modern adaptation by Hannah McPake of the 1930’s drama ‘The Visit’ by the Swiss Playwriter Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The play is about a young girl leaving her hometown and returns there later in life having made her fortune. She decides that she’d like to invest some of her money to save the town in exchange for a favour from the habitants – to kill her ex-boyfriend.
This will be the first collaboration production for UWTSD’s 3rd year BA Acting and BA Set Design & Production with Coleg Sir Gâr’s Performing Arts students. This opportunity is a chance for the students to have a taste of what it’s like to work within the theatre industry by working with other creative students outside their course, to showcase their vocational skills, to network and to create an impression to employ in front of industry professionals.
As part of this experience, students will have the opportunity to work closely with industry professional directors Matthew Holmquist and Samantha Alice Jones from Cardiff. Matthew said:
“I’ve been working with UWTSD on and off for nearly six years now, and I always look forward to coming here because I find that the students and the staff and the team are very unafraid of trying new things. We are using and original play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, and we’ve adapted it a bit. We’re kind of devising and creating the material from the original text, and also making our own version of what that is and splooshing them together in a kind of wonderful artistic mess.
“It’s given the students a different kind of ownership over the material because they’re making what they want to make in a response to what the play is about. The students’ progression during the time we have worked with them has been hugely encouraging both in terms of making the show but also in terms of thinking of their long-time career.”
“As theatre makers, this kind of work is a lot like what they will be doing in the real world when they graduate, so they’re having the ownership, the confidence, and the skillset to devise text and make work which is going to be invaluable to them as theatre makers when they leave.”
Maisie Bidwell is a 3rd year BA Set Design & Production student, and she applied for the role of costume designer on the production. Her role includes working closely with the directors to discuss costumes for the characters, working on a budget to find and source the costumes for the production and taking measurements. She said:
“Being able to be a costume designer on this production has made me realise that this is what I want to do, and this opportunity has given me a better understanding of what’s required within the industry – it’s helped me to see how things work in the real world of theatre. Working with the acting crew has made me realise that we’re working as one team, and we’ve collaborated in sharing ideas and design.”
Sophie Mildiner, who has joined the 3rd year acting students at UWTSD from Douglas College in Vancouver, Canada has also enjoyed the experience. She plays the role of Claire Zackery – a lawyer that donates money to the school.
“The practices have been great, and it’s been a privilege to work with Sam and Matthew. It’s been a trusting process, and I love the fact that they always consider our ideas – I feel heard as an actor, and they also respect our choices. It’s totally different to what I’ve done before. This experience has prepared me for what to expect in the industry. I’ve been challenged as an actor to create the character, and the character creation skills that I’ve learned has been fantastic.
“Working with the set design crew has been great, and it’s been cool having them in the room with us collaborating as an ensemble to discuss lighting and set ideas. A sense of community was definitely felt in the room.”
BA Acting Programme Director Lynne Seymour said:
“This first major performance project is always an exciting time of year for the third year students as well as the staff. We love seeing the department in ‘show-mode’ and it is a great opportunity for all the students to hone the skills they have learned within a simulated industry environment. Working with professional directors not only means that the students are exposed to ‘real world’ working practices, but it is a great opportunity to build their professional networks and contacts in preparation for their careers after UWTSD.”
BA Set Design & Production Co-Programme manager Stacey Jo- Atkinson said:
“It has been lovely for the students to work on a part scripted – part devised piece and see how a show can be produced and developed through a practical process. All the students have had a creative input into the piece and have been able to build on their collaboration and practical skills in order to pull this brilliant piece together. There have been many opportunities to develop their problem-solving skills, and this has helped build their confidence in their abilities. I look forward to seeing the audiences’ reaction to the show they have created and am excited to see their journey through their final year.”
Performances of ‘The Visit’ will take place in Y Llwyfan on the Carmarthen campus on November 24th and 25th, and on December 1st and 2nd. Tickets are available through Stacey Jo Atkinson: [email protected]