Jess Rayner speaks to Act One President Ellen Green, to find out more about the award winning society and what productions they have coming up this season.
Winner of the coveted ‘Best Society’ in 2012, Cardiff University’s drama society are big contenders in terms of creating fresh theatre. I got a chance to catch up with Act One’s president Ellen Green to find out more about the society and all the exciting productions they have got coming up this season.
Firstly Ellen, for those that don’t know much about Act One, can you tell me a bit more about who you are and what you do?
We are one of the biggest drama societies in the UK, and our main aim is to give as many people as possible the opportunity to get involved in drama. We put on seven Main Productions with a week’s run each every year, as well as shorter plays and events. We are also a VERY social society; as well as seeing each other several times a week at rehearsal we have weekly socials, larger socials for special occasions, and over Easter 65 of us are going to Berlin.
You won best society last year, has that put pressure on you as society to continue to produce a certain standard of productions this year?
Definitely, it’s great that Act One’s profile is so high in the university! We always want to produce shows that highlight all the talent of Act One. If ticket sales go well, then we should sell over 4000 tickets to our shows in total, so we definitely want to put on the best shows possible!
You have lots of exciting productions on the cards for 2013 can you tell me more about what you have got coming up?
Our Shakespeare, Julius Caesar opens tomorrow (12 Feb) – it is being performed in City Hall and has a mixed gender cast which has allowed us to do something different with it. We also have the classic A Streetcar Named Desire; a murder mystery farce Clue (based on the film of the same name); a piece of new writing about the events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Harrowdown Hill; and the musical Spring Awakening. The productions are all very different, so there is something for everyone!
As well as obviously attracting students who love acting, do you encourage new writers and budding directors to get involved as well?
Definitely. We cater to anyone interested in any aspect of theatre. Writing wise, four of our seven Main Productions this year have been written or adapted for stage by our members, we are taking two pieces of new writing to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and we are holding an evening of new writing before Easter.
Most people only see the final version of the play, but how much work goes into staging Act One productions?
Preparations begin the summer before, with the elected committee choosing the plays pitched by potential directors. The successful directors then finalise their concepts and venues over the summer, before casting in October. Then we rehearse until show time! The crews are working hard throughout the rehearsal period: finding, building and making props, set and costume. In addition to the Main Productions which rehearse for months, we do one night ‘Events’ which can be anything from half hour new writing to 2 hour plays, which tend to rehearse for only a few weeks. This means that whatever our members’ degree commitments are, they can still squeeze in being involved in Act One.
All tickets for Act One shows are available now at the Cardiff Students Union Box Office.