Bethia Atkinson writes an overview of the Term 3 Festival which took place over the last six weeks.
[dropcap size=small]A[/dropcap] room plunged into pitch black for an hour, the incessant ring of the school bell and the tap of keys from a secluded corner of the room. These are some of the defining characteristics of the T3 Drama Festival 2015, a six week festival of theatre of many different varieties that take up a drama student’s third term, while the rest of the university is frantically revising for exams. Almost 50 plays were produced, directed, rehearsed and performed between 28th April and 10th June. 46 shows in 40 days.
The festival this year saw a huge range of pieces, from one-man shows such as Kaya Potler’s Being Okay, to Carpe Diem and Pippi Longstocking, two shows that boasted the largest casts with 14 actors each. From physical theatre pieces that look at our relationship with technology to Greek mythology themed musicals that had Beyoncé as their soundtrack, T3 had something for everything. With so many shows on, it’s impossible to catch and review them all but I have selected a few highlights of the term, each show produced however being of incredible quality for the limited time they had.
– EUTCOs contribution to T3, this three-character play by Dennis Kelly asked the question of how far you would go for your family. The audience were kept in the dark as horrific secrets were revealed and left the room feeling like they had been punched in the gut. With beautifully simple direction from Dylan Frankland and nail-biting performances from Chris Sargent, James Alston and Therica Wilson-Read, this performance in The Lemon Grove left audiences reeling from shock and contemplating their own decision in the situation.
[divider]THE LAST GLIMMER[/divider]
– SET entirely in darkness with only glowing wristbands for light and dependent on audience reactions, this devised piece looked at a post-apocalyptic future where light is a precious resource and a group of people confined to a ‘camp’ are ready to fight back. A fantastic collaborative effort where the audience couldn’t feel safe in this immersive piece, this one-hour drama sent the audience on a rollercoaster of emotion. Impressive for a show that heavily relied upon the reactions of the audience and their actions.
[divider]BEAUTIFUL BURNOUT [/divider]
– ONE of the more talked about shows of the term, this piece originally by Frantic Assembly focused on a boy trying to make it in the boxing world. With a sterling cast and especially standout performances from Luke Render and Harry Heap, this high energy piece had the audience on the edge of their seats and frighteningly realistic fight choreography from cast member Mikey Howe had the audience wincing and leaving them with an ending that was both satisfying and hungry for more.
– FOOTLIGHTS’ offering for T3, this high-paced musical set in 1930s Berlin with the backdrop of the rise of Nazism, both entertained and provoked the audience. With a manoeuvrable set and standout performances from Ben Philipp as the enigmatic Emcee and Henry Cox as the charming Clifford Bradshaw, Cabaret was an emotionally-intense musical that had the audience laughing while being constantly reminded of the politics that seemed so vacant in the Kit Kat Club, where the play and the audience was set.
– ONE of the few comedic pieces produced in T3, FR3SH took seven of Exeter’s most common stereotypes from ‘The Lad’ to ‘The Feminist’ to ‘The International’ and shoved them all in one flat at the start of Freshers Week. With a relatable and witty script and a fantastically strong cast with commendable performances for their comedic timing from Olly Roy and Tasha Adkins, FR3SH had the audience rolling in their seats and reminding us all of the madness that is Freshers Week.
[divider]BELOW THE BELT (30th May) [/divider]
– THE first production for new theatre company Illogical Theatre, The Spandex B***ards: Below The Belt saw the journey of a boy whose mother’s dying wish was for him to be a wrestler, as he joins a wrestling club and meets all its colourful occupants. A scratch performance before they head to the Camden Fringe, Illogical Theatre gave a stunning performance combining comedy, drama and music to further lighten the mood of the audience who were left at the end wondering just what on earth they had seen, plastic baguettes and stuffed toys littering the empty stage.
[divider]PORNOGRAPHY (9th June)[/divider]
– IT’S not how it sounds. This production of the Simon Stephens play explored the events leading up to and of London winning the 2012 Olympic bid and the 7/7 bombings. Looking at stories across the capital, the audience found themselves wrapped up in tales of unhealthy relationships and motherhood. With gender-blind casting, chilling performances from Nicola Wong, Marthe Taylor and Amy Blakelock and a strong ensemble cast, Pornography helped finish the festival in style as its natural dialogue attempted to make sense of the inhuman act of violence that killed 52 civilians and injured many more.
by Bethia Atkinson