The theatre society at Newcastle University produces a large amount of theatre in a year. There are two seasons of shows per academic year, each consisting of a musical and five plays, including a Drama Festival in the third term made up of short student written pieces. As well as this, a piece taken to the Edinburgh Fringe, so there are plenty of opportunities to be involved. The audition process is nothing to lose sleep over (though many super-committed society members do) simply look out for details on the Facebook page, or sign up to the mailing list.
The next auditions will be in late May for our Edinburgh Fringe play ‘Spoon-Feeders’; simply turn up on the day and there will be audition pieces outside the room, give one a read and then go in and perform it to the directors. We have already shown a little teaser of this play in our Drama Festival. If you made it to our event you would have seen how fun-loving and experimental we are and so would welcome even more talent. We showcased not only acting talent, but showed off our script-writing geniuses and brilliant directors too.
As in all amateur dramatics, directors are always thrilled to see new faces and there are no expectation for Oscar-worthy performances. That being said, there is a high level of passion and commitment that goes into making great performances within the society. Having been the President of the society for a year I am continually impressed by the members. They do not shy away from big projects and continuously bring ambitious ideas into fruition on a low budget and a short time scale.
A recent production of Sondheim’s ‘Company’ was produced in just two weeks and featured a 3-D light up city skyline whilst the team working on Dennis Kelly’s ‘DNA’ created a whole forest on stage using real foliage. Original music was composed for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Alan Bennett’s, ‘The Madness of King George V’ was performed in the historic library room at The Old Miner’s Institute in Newcastle and original artwork was projected onto a completely white set for ‘The Nether’ by Jennifer Hayley at the Northern Stage. All of these were achieved by our fantastic technical and design teams that are as equally integral to the society as the actors. Members to these backstage teams are accepted all year round so please get in touch if you are interested in being involved.
In short, I would liken the experience of being involved in the making of a production to training for a big match with a university sports team, but with the added pressure of encouraging people to watch the match in order for you to afford the equipment to play with.
However, it is not all hard graft, the experience of working within a team to create a piece, with the shared interest in making it the best it can be, is an extremely rewarding one. Just take a deep breath, no coffee before hand (it won’t help the shaking), be friendly and pretend to be the most confident/passionate person in the world. But mainly, in answer to the question I would say, there’s no need to be a George Clooney or Meryl Streep. Moreover; show a willingness to get stuck in and a passion for telling stories. For this is what keeps the society, and theatre in general, afloat.