At a time when Facebook knows where we are, surveillance is widespread and theatre is live-streamed, Performing Arts students are questioning what it means to be in the here and now.
Thirty final-year students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), known as the i2Eye Theatre Collective, are working with professional theatre company Stan’s Cafe on an unmissable production coming to campus next week.
Live from the National Theatre features a mixture of live performances playing out contemporary relationships in competition with the screening of a Shakespearian classic.
It also boasts a witty collage script including real text conversations, with performances streamed in via FaceTime and touching performances live on stage.
James Yarker, Artistic Director at Stan's Café, said: “In cinemas up and down the country you can watch live streamed performances from prestigious venues like the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House.
“On the one hand, it’s great that big institutions can reach out in ways they’ve never been able to before, but on the other hand, what are audiences losing through being physically absent from the action?
“Our production gives students the chance to respond to this question in a playful way by putting the spotlight on real-life relationships versus the ones we conduct online.”
The experience has given students the chance to take their professionalism to the next level and learn first-hand about managing every aspect of a production, including front-of-house, sound engineering, lighting, marketing and performing.
Student Ryan Powel, who is part of the show’s marketing and media team, said: “This is very much our ideas and our show, but with the added benefit of an experienced director leading us in a cohesive way. It’s a great experience and I think it’s setting us up well for industry.”
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Becky Smith, who is in the stage management team, said: “From curtains to trees, we’re making as many of the props as we can ourselves to add authenticity.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved. I’ve been watching from the sidelines when I’ve not been on stage and seeing it all come together feels great.”
Also part of the marketing and media team is Samantha Giles. She said: “Our production is all about deconstructing the idea that people are living out their lives on social media, yet my role involves promoting it through social media. It’s an interesting challenge.”
Project manager Anita Ellis said: “I’m in charge of budgeting, which is the perfect role for me as I want to go into events management. I’m a really organised person and I’m glad I’ve been able to bring this to the production, as it’s helping me to develop important skills for my future.
“The show is really coming together now and we’re all feeling positive. The whole experience has brought us all closer together to create something amazing.”
Head of costuming Joanna Smith cut her first university journey short, but chose to finish her final year at DMU.
“I really want to go into teaching and I feel that this course is preparing me well for that, as I’ve been able to choose the modules which have given me the most relevant skills,” she said.
James added: “It’s been a decade since I last devised a university show and I’m enjoying the challenge.
“I’m trying to stay true to Stan’s Cafe’s collaborative approach and it’s students’ chance to show what they can do, stretch their wings and impress.”
Live from the National Theatre is showing on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 May at DMU’s PACE Building – book your free tickets online.
Find out more on i2Eye Theatre Collective’s Facebook account, YouTube channel and blog.
Posted on Friday 4th May 2018