DMU students take centre stage at Curve in thrilling virtual play

Stage productions and green screens may not be an obvious pairing, but students collaborating with Leicester’s Curve theatre have reached pioneering new heights during Covid-19.

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Drama students at De Montfort University (DMU) are working entirely remotely on a creative reimagining of Blood Wedding, a gripping tragedy from writer Federico García Lorca inspired by a true story and first performed in 1933.

Expertly directed by Curve’s Jennifer Lane Baker through video calls, the 21 students are filming themselves against green screens and their performances will be professionally edited together into a thrilling virtual play, available to watch on demand from Thursday 27 to Monday 31 May.

The experience is part of DMU’s Drama curriculum, thanks to the university’s valuable partnership with Leicester’s award-winning theatre, enabling second and final-year students to audition for the elective module.

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In addition to working with a wide range of Curve professionals, students also benefitted from comprehensive online workshops with casting and movement directors, as well as covering topics such as acting for screen and filming a self-tape.

Second-year student Will Gray is part of the production’s Ensemble, a constant presence throughout the performance to keep tensions running high.

The 19-year-old from Norwich said: “Curve has gone way beyond ‘making do’ and has put a lot of effort into this. What’s come out of it is a performance that’s just as strong and creatively unique as what we would have created in-house.

“Making it onto a production like this and learning from all of the professionals working so hard behind the scenes is really exciting and rewarding.”

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Course and castmate Chisenga Malama plays The Moon, a symbolic character expressing its wish to shine brightly so that death isn’t escaped.

“It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve learned something new every day. From navigating online auditions to knowing about camera angles, these are skills we will take with us even when we graduate. Acting and drama are all about new challenges and I feel we’ve all embraced that,” said the 22-year-old from Zambia.

Final-year student Reece Reidy is undertaking the role of Death, the puppet master behind all of the play’s tragedy.

The 21-year-old from Bradford said: “This experience has really opened my eyes to how the pandemic allowed the sector to grow, reflect and adopt new ways of working. Adversity really does spark creativity and innovation.

“Being able to immerse myself with professionals and being part of a team has been really rewarding, especially as we’ve not seen many people over the past year. This production will go down in history – the way we’re creating it is so unique and it will be one to remember.”

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Playing The Mother of the Groom, whose family the story evolves around, is second-year student Ffion Roberts.

“My other modules focused on stage performance, but getting to explore a multimedia aspect is great – this could be the future of theatre. It’s been a challenge to make, but the end result is way more accessible, reaching people across the world,” said the 20-year-old from North Wales.

Final-year Londiwe Mthembu plays The Bride, conflicted between what she should do and what her heart is telling her to do.

The 22-year-old from South Africa said: “It’s been good to find ways to work around the pandemic – we’ve taken on the challenge and made something new. At first it was daunting, but all the workshops we’ve had really helped.

“Getting to meet the cast and Curve professionals through our online rehearsal rooms are moments I’ve really cherished this year. We all love what we’re doing and being together is magical.”

Dr Elinor Parsons, senior lecturer in Drama at DMU, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity which complements what we’re doing in the curriculum. With Blood Wedding being an historical play in translation, students had lots of scope for research and were able to explore a contemporary dynamic too.

“To counter the experience being remote this year, Curve’s additional enrichment sessions and the access to some of its other on-demand performances, have made sure that our students still feel fully embedded in a professional context.”

Book your free tickets for Blood Wedding online.

Posted on Friday 14 May 2021

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