Students performing in the Forum

Drama students perform for Her Majesty the Queen’s Visit

An accomplished ensemble of actors from Exeter’s Drama department performed during the visit from Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh’s visit on Wednesday 2 May.

The event marked the official opening of the Forum, an exciting new development at the heart of the University’s Streatham Campus.

Performances included a Shakespearean piece from The Wars of the Roses Project and an extract from a successful play by The University of Exeter Theatre Company (EUTco) held at The Northcott Theatre last month.

Eleanor Chadwick, a postgraduate student on the MA Staging Shakespeare programme, and founder of the Elysium Theatre Company, and Nora Williams, also postgraduate student and one of two Assistant Director’s, led The Wars of the Roses cast, who performed a theatrical collage piece featuring the kings from eight of Shakespeare’s plays. They enacted the movement from the melancholy elegance of Richard II, through the rebellions, victories and losses of the following plays, and finally into the dark brutality of Richard III.

Nicola Pollard, also postgraduate student and Assistant Director said “The actors and directors have been putting in many extra hours of rehearsal for the opening. They have had workshops in singing, voice, dance and stage combat, plus independent line-learning.”

The cast, largely drawn from the Drama department, are staging all eight of Shakespeare's history plays at historical properties in the Devon area later this year. The project is part of The Royal Shakespeare Company's Open Stages scheme and combines theatre with re-enactment and living history, in an exciting project spanning 100 years of history.

Rachael Burton and Zachary Price, third year BA Drama students and members of The University of Exeter Theatre Company (EUTco), also performed at the Forum Opening. The society presented an extract of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui - a successful show held at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre last month, which details a reimagining of Hitler's Nazi regime in Germany, by prolific practitioner Bertolt Brecht.

“We began rehearsing for the Forum opening in October - It's not every day you are offered the opportunity to perform at an event where the guest list includes The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh!”

The Forum Opening also included a performance from the University of Exeter Dance society, led by 3rd year Drama undergraduate Faye Hutchinson, who is the President of the society.

Eleanor Chadwick concluded, “The day was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the talents and work ethic of students at the University. The theatre group was keen to show the large and ambitious theatrical project that we have been working on to VIP guests and The Queen”.

These students were also joined by Hannah Berney, Flexible Combined Honours student studying French and History modules and current contender on BBC One’s The Voice, who sung the Portuguese Cancao do Mar for the Queen.

Additional information about the Forum Opening can be found on the University’s Royal Visit webpages. Further information and a film detailing the Wars of the Roses project can be viewed on the Elysium Theatre Company’s blog.

Date: 3 May 2012

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