Compelling performances by students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) will enable audiences to experience campus and city locations in a new light.
Final-year Performing Arts students have worked intensively with internationally-acclaimed theatre collective Gob Squad to present their ambitious Coming Soon project – a series of audio-visual tours filmed around Leicester city centre, accessible online from 5pm on Monday 16 November.
Six short films inspired by the sci-fi genre will be available to download, together with a digital map detailing where each performance was shot. They can be viewed online or safely on location while adhering to the government’s latest national lockdown guidelines.
Usually performed as a physical show, students expertly adapted to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic by working in small groups of three while social distancing to make each film.
The experience has given students the chance to take their skills to the next level and learn first-hand about every aspect of filming their performances – from storyboarding and directing to editing and marketing – as well as building a website to host their work.
Among the 18 students behind Coming Soon are Duval Reid, Freya Cooper, Hana Ayers and Katie Fisher, who like their other coursemates, have taken on key responsibilities within their smaller groups, as well as more widely across the project.
Exploring the fine line between modern-day dystopian and utopian visions, Hana and her group filmed their work around DMU’s riverside area.
The 22-year-old from Oxford said: “Gob Squad asked us to visit a familiar part of campus and really spend time taking in things like how it smelt, looked and felt, and we actually started to notice things we had never noticed before.
“It was interesting because it highlighted the things we take for granted - like architecture we didn’t realise existed, the history behind it and why it was created. It helped us to take in new ideas and think about the possibilities of each location.”
Filmed around DMU’s Queen’s Building, Duval’s group has created an abstract piece about things and people going missing. Due to his dance background, he played a big role in the choreography.
“It was really valuable to work with and have feedback from a professional company. It allowed us to grow creatively as individual performers,” said the 20-year-old from Birmingham.
“Having this opportunity during the coronavirus pandemic has taught me that there is still room for creatives in the current climate. If anything, it’s made me want to pursue this career choice even more, because no matter the set-backs there are always new ways to interact with audiences.”
With Leicester Cathedral as their backdrop, Katie’s group learned a lot about performing and filming in a prominent public space, setting them up well for future site-specific work.
The 21-year-old from Manchester said: “We were extremely lucky that we got to work with Gob Squad over two intensive weeks before the second lockdown was enforced.
“We all wore masks and kept a safe distance, but it was a very valuable experience that’s going to really help us in our working lives.”
A meditation app used to control people’s emotions is the premise of a futuristic piece by Freya’s group, filmed outside of Leicester’s Jewry Wall Museum.
“Gob Squad pride themselves on their collaborative approach and it’s something we all adopted. With just three of us in each group, we worked together on every aspect of our films, meaning we got to share our skills and develop new ones,” said the 20-year-old from Sheffield.
“We can’t physically go to the theatre right now, but we’re so excited that our performances can be enjoyed by everyone during the pandemic. They offer a bit of an escape and it’s nice to be able to show Leicester in a new light too.”
Watch Coming Soon online and stay updated on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Posted on Friday 13th November 2020