On a course called Drama and Theatre Studies, it’s probably not surprising that most of my MA classmates like being on stage. The course itself is a mix of theory and practical classes and most of the class took the practical classes – Ensemble Acting and Vocabularies of Theatre Composition. There was also a lot of involvement in NUIG DramSoc and six of the eight One Act plays were written, directed or performed by someone in the MADT class.
The idea to do a showcase for casting directors and agents came about when Maureen Hughes was speaking at the Town Hall Theatre’s Drama Day at the end of February. One of my classmates asked if she would come and see us if we did put on a showcase. Her advice was to book somewhere in Dublin, put on a lunchtime show and invite as many industry professionals as possible. That seemed possible; it even sounded like it might be fun. We were still considering the idea when we asked Mikel Murfi after a workshop if he had any suggestions of suitable scenes or plays. He was very enthusiastic about the idea and that helped us think that it was a good idea. As usual with things like this we had to push to get it started but once we got things up and running, it started to take on a life of it’s own. (I usually find that happens around the time you book a venue and start inviting people. Putting down money is also a really good incentive to make things happen.)
We contacted a few venues and got a great price from Bewley’s Café Theatre. Our lunchtime show became an early-evening show. We held a cake-sale to raise money, got a bit of sponsorship and the university pitched in a little bit as well. We had a date and a venue and guest list. We even had money to pay for the whole thing. We just had to put together a show.
The trickiest part was figuring out which scenes to do. We needed things that could stand up on their own and also show our actors to the very best of their abilities. The cast consisted of nine women and four men and we had to find something for everybody. There were a couple of long sessions with piles of scripts, passing the books around, reading little bits, considering and rejecting and trying it different ways. Eventually we got twelve scenes with something for everyone. We juggled rehearsals around essay deadlines and slowly the show started to come together.
Last week it all became very real. On Tuesday we did an open dress rehearsal in the Bank of Ireland Theatre in college. It was the first time we did the whole show together and it was great to perform in front of an audience. It was also lovely that people took time out to come and see us and stick around to give feedback afterwards.
On Thursday we headed to Dublin for our busy day in Bewleys. They let us get in to the space at 10am in the morning, which was great because it was the first time a lot of people had been in the theatre. We had to leave at 12pm because there was a lunchtime show on but we were back for our get-in at 2.30pm for a show starting at 5pm. It was a little bit hectic!
The event itself was a huge success. We had a lovely audience who all seemed to enjoy themselves. Bewley’s looked after us very well. I really cannot fault their hospitality, even when there were 13 people warming up on the stairs they were lovely about it. The show went really smoothly too – no hiccups and everybody definitely upped their game on the night! There is a whole lot of talent in my class and I’m delighted that we got a chance to show it off. This was something that the class came together to do ourselves; it had nothing to do with our course. We all worked really hard on something that was entirely ours.
Afterwards we went out for dinner and then there was dancing and drinking in the hostel and a little bit of sing-song and it was a really nice way to end the year. Our first class trip was to Dublin in October for the Dublin Theatre Festival and this felt like a nice way to bookend the year.
I don’t know if anyone will get any work because of the showcase but it felt like a success to me. We’ve already got a good return on all our hard work!