Featured in The Comet, Letchworth, UK

The Great War Theatre Project 2015: American Theatre professionals collaborate with Letchworth Drama students

Sixth-Form students at the Da Vinci Studio School of Creative Enterprise have completed an exciting multi-media drama project with an American theatre company, TC Squared.

Through strong relations between management at Letchworth Arts Centre and Da Vinci’s Placements Service, Boston [USA] based touring TC Squared Theatre Company flew over to Letchworth last week commencing a ten-day residency through intensive performing arts workshops and stage shows working with Da Vinci’s acting students. This began the first international placement partnership for students in the school to gain real work experience in practical theatre. The theatre shows included performance, imagery, and video, with a closing Q&A talk-back where audience members asked questions and the students and professional actors shared their creative experience with the community.

Performance Workshops were held at Letchworth Arts Centre with four professional Boston actors directing four teams of fifteen Performing Arts students developing their stage pieces together through improvisation, script creation, and finalizing all visual and video edits. Da Vinci’s acting students and the American producers collaborated with four Production Arts students who were Stage Managers throughout the theatre project working on sound, lighting, rigging, and technical direction led by second-year Production Arts student Paul Smart, 17, of Biggleswade. Also involved, a media student Edward Claydon, 18, of Royston, produced the war imagery backdrops to report on the four topics within the powerfully thought-provoking student response theatre piece: Women in War; Children in War; Modern War Machine; and Media in War. Other students involved included Olivia Hughes, 18, of Baldock, and Eliza Allen, 16, of Letchworth who assisted with marketing and front of house duties.

This twenty-first century focused performance was very moving at the premier showings held at Plinston Hall on Saturday 13th June, the opening of Letchworth Festival. Daily performances followed thereafter for other Letchworth schools to become the audience and experience the American professionals’ and Letchworth students’ collaboration held at Letchworth Arts Centre twice per day every day until Thursday. The Boston Theatre Company departed this weekend. [Farewell imagery attached.]

Susan Werbe, GWTP Executive Producer said, “This experience has been a true gift to our actors from the states to be performing in a country which is so central to the war. It has been an incredibly satisfying learning experience for the entire production team.” Susan praises the commitment of the students, “The tech team, Paul, Elliot, and Aidan [second year Production Arts students] and Ed on media duties were all incredibly committed. If anything went wrong each day, such as missing cables, the students worked professionally as a team, found solutions quickly and trusted the Boston actors.”

Rosalind Thomas-Clark, GWTP Artistic Director said, “This was a fantastic joint-effort project and we have toured this show for over four years. The Da Vinci students were very engaged. It was all very intense from day-one but the students were so passionate and committed they turned up every day and performed a great show. We hope they can visit us in Boston to perform with us again!”

Maria Iredale, Letchworth Arts Centre Manager said “If travel broadens the mind, it has been incredibly powerful for American theatre professionals to choose to come join us in Letchworth to share a thought-provoking piece working with students artistically in the town.”

Monelle Bryce-Reid, Placements Manager at Da Vinci says “Constantly working in collaboration with industry specialists is a key learning and motivational factor in supporting the professional development of young people. We are preparing students for the real world of work in our creative sector; it’s so exciting to see how much the students have been inspired to further enhance the beginning of their choice careers.”

Paul Smart, 18, of Biggleswade, said “This experience has been special, fun, hard work, and very long days, but what I will expect when I am working full-time in the theatre production and events industry. It’s definitely something to enhance my CV and the team were all so great to work with.”

Eden Stewart, 17, of Letchworth said “My group came up with creative ideas. I really enjoyed the whole collaborative process. Everyone who came to watch us perform loved it. Some were very emotional. I didn’t think the audience would enjoy the show as much as they did as it was so different. I really enjoyed working with American actors!”