Creative Approaches to Drama Training Under Covid:
RWCMD: The Richard Burton Company Presents the In Camera Season
Drama training and performance relies so much on being together and responding to each other in a physical space – so how do we do that and share students’ work with our audiences when we can’t yet open our doors to the public
As a training establishment the College is able to continue creating theatre when all of the venues in Wales are still dark (RWCMD has special permission from Welsh Government to do this). During the Christmas countdown the College presented five plays, some of which can be seen by audiences online this month, brought together by teams of student actors, stage managers, designers, scenic artists, constructors and costume designers.
All are supported and supervised by a team of staff committed to allowing the students to have a real experience, even with small invited audiences.
RWCMD’s first In Camera season, shot in differing styles including an NT Live style multi camera format, features Twelfth Night Remembered, based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act and The Moors. They were all performed last term, under strict Covid conditions.
These three plays will be available to watch online from Tuesday 19 January.
Two other plays featuring the MA actors, (In the Blood, written by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Lekan Lawal and Yen by Anna Jordan, directed by Zoë Waterman), and the annual Musical Theatre Christmas Cabaret, will be shared with the industry.
Earlier last term the Richard Burton Company’s inaugural Royal Welsh Short Film Festival, showcasing original scripts written by leading writers and filmed by a professional film crew, also premiered online.
The Richard Burton Company In Camera Season will be available online later this month. Find out more on our What’s On pages at www.rwcmd.ac.uk
‘We have a responsibility to our students to provide the best opportunities we can and give them as much exposure to the industry as possible,’ said Jonathan Munby, Director of Drama Performance, who directed Twelfth Night Remembered.
‘Filming and streaming the work means that we’ll be able to reach a far wider audience than we normally would be able to, as well as providing the students with a professional experience in line with current industry practice’
‘There’s no question that working in a pandemic is difficult. Keeping social distancing at all times, on and off stage, makes the creative process incredibly challenging. But we are finding creative ways of overcoming these problems. It’s been a Herculean effort by all involved, to keep everyone safe and well, as well as maintaining the integrity of the work.’
Nicholai La Barrie, Artistic Associate of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, directed Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act:
‘The biggest challenge by far making a play under COVID guidelines is to ensure that, with a cast that is socially distanced on stage, we tell a compelling story and the audience feels they’re connected to the characters.’
Everything I know about directing a play has gone out of the window. This play is challenging anyway -with the emotional intensity and challenge of the writing, it’s very different in each act, almost like three different plays. It’s very demanding of the actors but luckily they’re exceptional actors and can respond to this.’
‘Film is a different medium all together,’ he continued. ‘I knew it was going to be filmed so I was thinking about both the live audience and the in camera audience from the start. We had to decide really early on if we were filming a staged production or making a film, because the context is different. We’re filming a stage production, like the NT Live series, which means we’ve been thinking about where to place the actors, how we light for the stage and then for the cameras. So there’ll be two versions of this, one that exists in the theatre and one that exists on camera.‘
Talking about the play itself Nicholai commented: ‘Statements is important because while it was written nearly 50 years ago, it still speaks to the moment that we are living in. There are pure things like hope and love that are broken for these characters, things that they have no control over.
I think this play asks us – what is our morality, what do we believe in, and how would we fight for those things. It asks us to reflect on our own lives and chose what is important to us. It does that rare thing, that I think plays do so much better than any other medium, it gives us time to think, reflect and consider.’
Patricia Logue, director of The Moors:
‘We’re very excited to be producing the UK premiere of The Moors and audiences need to see it because it is not what one expects!
Taking the tropes of Victorian gothic storytelling as its launch – melodrama, societal ills, romanticism, lurking eroticism and the treatment of women in those societies – it offers a fresh contemporary spin, where we witness women’s possibilities when truly liberated from patriarchal domination. These women are fighting for power and visibility in a sometimes brutal, lusty and deranged way. It is haunting, chilling at times, but also raunchy, a bit surreal and very funny. ‘
View Online from Tuesday 19 January 2021
The Moors by Jen Silverman, directed by Patricia Logue
Video on Demand – Watch Online
Online premiere: Tuesday 19 January at 7.30pm
Available until Sunday 24 January
Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act by Athol Fugard, directed by Nicholai La Barrie
Video on Demand – Watch Online
Online premiere: Thursday 21 January at 7.30pm
Available until Tuesday 26 January
Twelfth Night Remembered, based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, directed by Jonathan Munby
Video on Demand – Watch Online
Online premiere: Saturday 23 January at 7.30pm
Available until Sunday 31 January
For tickets and further information, visit www.rwcmd.ac.uk
Featured image from Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act
Photo Credit: Kirsten McTernan
The Richard Burton Company is the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s own in-house theatre company, made up of undergraduate and postgraduate actors, stage managers, theatre designers and musical theatre performers. As one of Wales’ most prolific repertory companies, the Richard Burton Company stages around fifteen productions each year ranging from classic plays to contemporary drama, new writing and musical theatre.