A student cast from The Nottingham New Theatre and a professional crew including staff from Lakeside Arts Centre bring Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata to the stage next week.
Lysistrata is a bawdy battle of the sexes, led by a commanding heroine who mobilises the women of Greece to deny their husbands sex until they agree to a lasting peace.
Director Martin Berry believes that the enduring appeal of Lysistrata comes from Aristophanes’ attention to the simple things that make us laugh: “The laughs in this play are about things that are just eternally funny: the battle of the sexes, the things about men that annoy women, the things about women that annoy men, the things about acting and theatre that people find amusing whether it’s pratfalls or a little bit of slapstick, all those things that we always love.
Funding from University alumni
This production is the first collaboration between Lakeside Arts Centre and The Nottingham New Theatre that brings together a student cast with a professional crew. Funding for the show has come from Cascade, a grants programme supported by donations from The University of Nottingham’s alumni and friends.
Shona Powell, Director of Lakeside and Producer of the show said: “We wanted to do something which provided the opportunity for members of The Nottingham New Theatre to work with professionals. Cascade exists to benefit students at the University, and without it this project would never have got off the ground.”
The production includes an education programme to support teachers and students who study the play at A-Level. This includes talks with the director and cast as well as opportunities to re-direct scenes and discuss the creative choices the ensemble has made with the show.
Working with the pros
It’s not only the cast who get to benefit from working with the professionals, other New Theatre members, including two student assistant directors, have opportunities to develop their production skills through shadowing and workshops.
Philip Damms, a final year undergraduate and regular New Theatre actor says that the depth of preparation for this show has been a real eye opener: “I’ve never had a set model to work with before, never had a mark-up of the stage because we usually rehearse in a room on campus. Everything is at higher level but there’s still that student-feel to it.”
Director Martin Berry says he gets “a real buzz” from working with the students: “Working on this production has been as much of a learning curve for me as it has been for all the students involved. What has been especially exciting about working on Lysistrata has been the way in which the development programme has enabled the professionals at Lakeside to work as student mentors on all aspects of the production from acting and directing to lighting, sound, education and marketing. In my experience this is a truly unique opportunity that has led to a bold, innovative and thrilling production of a classic text.”
And Martin says that audiences should expect to be entertained: “You’ll come away thinking about war and feminism and authority and education, but you’ll also hopefully have a face that’s aching because you’ve been laughing and smiling so much.”
Lysistrata is directed by Martin Berry and translated from Aristophanes by Alan Sommerstein, Professor of Greek at The University of Nottingham. The show runs from Tuesday 23 April to Saturday 27 April.
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