Hello again- I hope you’re all enjoying the sun! Week 10 has crept up on us and after a packed couple of weeks I have now returned home for the summer break, leaving my lovely little campus room behind for the final time.
If you’re reading this then I expect you maybe have an interest, if not in the theatre faculty at Warwick, then the possibilities afforded by the array of extracurricular drama societies at the uni – so today I thought I’d give you an overview of all there is on offer. The theatre scene is incredibly lively at Warwick, so be prepared for a rather long post…!
This is the society that first springs to mind when you think about drama at Warwick. WUDS stages published play texts and this year there has been an array of productions, from large scale to outdoors, well-known to unknown and everything in between. Plays have included (to name but a few!) A View From The Bridge, Much Ado About Nothing, Misterman, and Accidental Death of an Anarchist. I am on the exec (management committee) of WUDS for the 2018-19 academic year, as Workshops Coordinator – so will be focusing on developing an exciting programme of activities for freshers, as well as making sure that everyone gets plenty of opportunities not just to audition for/perform in plays but also meet other members and have fun developing new skills together – beyond the rehearsal room! Do keep an eye out for me at the freshers fair…
This society supports new writing and everything they stage is student-written, which is absolutely fantastic! As a budding playwright, it’s really exciting to have the chance to see your work come to life but also, as a performer, to have the chance to be part of a debut cast. This society also hosts ‘FreshFest,’ an annual festival of 8 short plays written by students – this is really good fun to be involved in if you get the chance and, because it’s a bit smaller-scale, also a great way to dip your toe in the water and find out what it’s like to write, act, direct or even produce a show at Warwick! It’s probably worth mentioning here that if you’re a Theatre and Performances Studies student, there is the chance to do a module in Writing for Theatre in your 2nd year – I will be taking this from the autumn and am really looking forward to it!
Codpiece produces primarily devised theatre – usually stemming out of workshop-based practice but also adaptations of existing plays or new writing. I haven’t been involved with this society yet, however I have been to see some of their work, all of which has been really engaging and thought-provoking. Someone on my course recently created a half hour piece called ‘Journey’ which explored the impact of dementia – using an ensemble of about 8 performers to tell the story through physical theatre; and this was easily one of the most powerful things I’ve seen at Warwick this year. It’s so important in this industry to be proactive in creating your own work, and Codpiece provides a great platform for this.
As you might expect, this society is focused on all things Shakespearean, staging the works of the Bard and his contemporaries! This year, I was in the cast of Titus Andronicus, a studio production, as well as an outdoor staging of Measure for Measure, (which was a collaboration between this society and WUDS). ShakeSoc often develops exciting adaptations and ‘twists’ on classic plays – recently Romeo & Juliet was boldly reimagined as ‘Montague and Capulet,’ giving a refreshing take on such a well-known story. Overall I always find that ShakeSoc goes a long way to make classical texts entertaining, accessible and resonant in a modern context – and it’s such a friendly, open society to be part of.
Pretty much what the name suggests! ‘Warwick Improvised Theatre Society’ meets regularly for workshop sessions based around developing improvisation skills, which are tremendously fun and a great source of confidence-building as a performer. Improv games are used to build skills of spontaneity and awareness, which are then applied in various scenarios with different setups– solo, pair or group. This work often culminates in improvised shows, in which a full length performance is created from scratch in front of an audience- scary yet thrilling!
MTW has a special place in my heart, as it was the very first society I got involved with when I arrived at Warwick, taking part in ‘weekend show,’ which entailed rehearsing and staging a musical in just 48 hours! This is just one of a huge range of opportunities on offer by the society – this year the two major productions were RENT and Spring Awakening, but along the way, other events included an array of concerts, charity fundraisers, and ‘Ensemble’ a lovely group which meets weekly to work on all kinds of musical numbers, culminating in termly showcases. There is also an auditioned troupe who perform the fantastic ‘Improv Musical,’ which is going to Edinburgh Fringe for the 5th year in a row this summer. This involves a cast of 6 plus a pianist totally improvising a show and songs, based on audience suggestions for setting, characters and style of music!
This is definitely one of the friendliest societies I’ve encountered up to now at Warwick – ‘opera’ can sound scary but it’s honestly not! All the productions they stage are presented in an English translation which helps to make everything very accessible to audience and performers alike and you really don’t need to have had prior experience to have fun with this society. I’ve just performed in the chorus of ‘H.M.S. Pinafore,’ a lighthearted operetta with catchy tunes and a hilarious storyline, and it was such a good experience. In the past, they have developed new work as well, including the quirky ‘Jurassic Park: The Opera’ (yes, really!).
It’s fair to say that we really couldn’t do what we do without this amazing society! If you’re interested in the backstage/technical aspects of putting on a show, be it lighting, sound, stage management, then this is the place for you. They run training sessions throughout the year and provide teams to work on all the society shows – which provides a great source of practical experience.
It’s worth noting that all these societies have a jam-packed calendar of events and socials, with plenty to get involved in both on and off-stage. The Drama Ball is a much-loved annual shindig, as well as the ‘Woscars’ – the Warwick Oscars awards!
We’re also incredibly lucky to have the Warwick Arts Centre on campus, a versatile multi-purpose venue comprising of a concert hall (where graduations take place – if you care to think that far ahead!), a 550 seat theatre, studio space, art gallery and cinema. This is a huge allure for prospective students – as it was for me – the WAC hosting a brilliant programme of touring theatre and visiting artists/musicians, as well as a number of student productions every year. Our drama societies have a great collaboration with WAC and this presents so many exciting opportunities!
I hope all of this has given you a bit of insight into the wonderful world of Warwick Drama! It goes without saying that we always keep busy here exploring new ideas, creating work, supporting each other and having plenty of fun along the way.