It is 10:00 am on a Sunday morning, the time when any normal student is still in bed, perhaps with a hangover, and settling down for a Sunday morning of iPlayer, black coffee and mild panic over next weeks work. There is no such luxury for anyone involved in Hippolytus this year. Having struggled through the overnight snow, which has delayed the tube and buses and frozen the feet of those walking in, the cast are in University for their final run through of the play. The next time they meet it will be the dress rehearsal that happens just before opening night.
As the chorus run through their dance, I had a quick word with Louise, who plays the Goddess Aphrodite, and asked her about her play experiences:
How are you feeling now there are only a few days to go?
It’s a little bit surreal. Particularly for me as I have not been in as many rehearsals as the chorus, who have been rehearsing since Christmas. I think when we get into the theatre it will start to feel more real.
Yes. It’s been really good. It was much more one on one for me, as my character has no interaction with the main cast. The filming (for the projected video) was really good. It was horrendously cold though!
How have you gone about embodying the Goddess of Love and Desire?
(says something I cannot put into print!) No, don’t put that in! I’ve gone about analysing the emotions in the script - what she wants and why. And also understanding that confidence – she can do whatever she wants – she IS sex and beauty – she is all of those things. It’s trying to get that complete and all encompassing confidence, and conveying that. It would have been easy to say, “I’m so sexy” and be obvious, like when girls put on loads of make up, and act a certain way. But it’s more than that, it’s the complete and unfaltering belief that she is the most beautiful, that she IS desire. Desire can be terrible and dark, and she is embodying that side of things and is abusing it simply because she can.
Has there been anything unique about acting in a Greek Tragedy, as opposed to any other form of theatre?
I think that didn’t affect me as much as the chorus. The lines, because it’s a translation, are a bit stylised. But because I don’t have to interact as much, it didn’t affect me. But I think it will be accessible.
What have the Producers been up to?
This last week has been very stressful for all involved. We have been signing contracts and organising the crew, whilst trying to attend the rehearsals to see how the play is progressing.
One of the major pieces of work was finalising the programme available for purchase at the performance. Abi and I, as producers, put it together and, considering we have no experience in graphic design, we are really proud of the result. The cover image is the same as the poster, which features the picture taken for us by one of our directors, Illy. But the inside is just as important, and we are so thankful to the academic staff of the Greek and Latin department UCL, who have contributed articles to help explain the history, symbolism, and significance of Hippolytus. We hope this programme will provide a valuable academic resource for the school groups who have booked seats. You can also find the original drawings of the costumes, cast biographies, and information about organisations and events to do with Classics around London.
One of the issues with student theatre is that a careful balance must be struck between our focus on putting on an amazing play and academic work. Combining rehearsals and class timetables and essays can mean that not everyone can attend all rehearsals, and this can mean that we do not run through the complete play until the dress rehearsal. This does not make for a relaxing experience, as there is always the fear that someone has been overlooked, or one scene is not run through enough, but the lines are learned and the dances choreographed and it looks amazing. Everyone involved has been working hard to complete their coursework before Playweek, and now we are at liberty to devote ourselves to the play for the next few days. Abi and I are here for the final run-through, and we are blocking the performance in order to give our backstage crew the most detailed notes possible at the Tech rehearsal tomorrow. We have makeup artists, prop managers, and stage crew awaiting instruction and the wonderful Jo Golding at the Bloomsbury has designed our lighting.
So with the programmes made, the rights signed off on, and the crew raring to go, we are ready for playweek to begin!