TERESA FRANCIS

Brunel Drama Society’s winter production of ‘A Midsummer’s Wet Dream’ was performed at the Antonin Artaud building on the 17th of February. A few days before its debut, Le Nurb spoke with the play’s director, Robert Parritt, and one of its actors, Sophie Bredbere, about their experience with the play and other arts events.

 So, to start off, what kind of projects have you both been involved with before this one?

R: Back in my first year, I was involved in Arts@Artaud, which happens once every term, and did the lighting and backstage stuff, which is very fun and useful. From that I’ve then been asked to do stuff for the Artaud forum, which is an academic event for lecturers from around the country who come down to the Artaud building and watch performance pieces and review them, which was also quite fun, and I got paid for that one!

S: If this is specifically for university, this is technically the first one I’ve been involved with, but before that it was just sort of school productions-

R: You’re also involved with Le Nurb and Radio-

S: Oh, I thought we were just talking about drama! Yeah, and I’m involved with the drama society as well.

Before getting into this project, do you feel like you accurately predicted how much work it would entail?

R: Nowhere near! In the past I’ve directed things for my course, but that’s been with two to five actors all in the same course, so it’s been nice and easy to organize rehearsals because we all have the same lessons. When you’re trying to organise rehearsals for 17 people on about 10 different courses and different years, it gets quite difficult and hectic. In terms of the actual rehearsal process, it’s quite similar to what I’ve done before, so it’s fairly straightforward in that sense.

S: Pretty much, it’s been what I’d expected. I was involved in the writing process at the very beginning, but it’s only been the last couple of weeks that I’ve been doing a lot more. Rob assigned me to help with promoting so I’ve been in the Atrium the last couple of days selling tickets.

And in projects like this one, how many people are usually involved?

R: Well, four years ago Drama Society did ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and they had about 10 actors I think, which was heavily edited and about 10 minutes long, it was pretty simple. The year I joined we did ‘Romeo and Some Chick’, which was about 50 minutes, and we had about 15 people in again, so the amount of people that get involved are usually about the same, and because it’s Shakespeare it’s always been the same sort of roles as well.

S: Though with Midsummer’s there are quite a lot of subplots, all these different threads.

R: Yeah, to organise rehearsals, I’ve created four different Facebook chat groups: so we have the fairies, we have the lovers, the mechanicals and the royals, because those are the main kind of groups, so it was a lot easier to coordinate them as a group.

What would you say has been the most effective way of promoting the play, and how do you go about that? I know people put up posters, but does that draw a lot of people?

R: One of the difficulties with advertising is that so many different people on the concourse are out there flyering and people get so much spam email about all these sorts of events, so if you just go and do all that you become one of those people, and it’s very easy to just ignore it. It can be the most hurtful thing when you’re handing out flyers and someone doesn’t even look at you.

The most useful thing for advertising – which I’ve done for Arts@Artaud before and we did last year for ‘Shamlet’ – is getting in character and flyering on the concourse. For ‘Shamlet’, and for this play, we’ve had people in costume put on the concourse, selling tickets in character.

S: That’s a tried and tested method. Last week, we sold 20 tickets and that was no one in character or anything. Today alone, we sold, about 23 tickets just by having two people going around in character and that was pretty amazing.

Credit: Kirsty Capes
Credit: Kirsty Capes

How did the idea for ‘A Midsummer’s Wet Dream’ come about?

R: It was because of one particular line from the original play which is ‘Puck in’. Last year, after we finished ‘Shamlet’, me and Jamie McArthur, who was vice president last year, went to the pub. We were talking about what we would do next year and he said we have to do ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for that line.

What do you find have been the most challenging parts of acting and directing respectively?

S: Rob looks like he’s going to have a breakdown just thinking about it!

R: The difficult thing for me is that I was both the director and producer of the play. The director will usually go to the rehearsals to direct the show and do some research to come up with an overall idea for artistic design. The producer will organise rehearsals, production, and backstage stuff. So it’s two full time jobs, and the main problem for me is not getting any sleep.

S: For acting, it was quite low key last term. This term, we’ve been doing four, five hour rehearsals. I came in last night at eight and didn’t leave till about midnight. And I know others have said they’ve had long rehearsals as well.

R: Because drama is an incredibly physical thing, you’re using your entire body, your voice and your mind, you have to warm all of those up. You have to do physical exercises, vocal exercises, and mental exercises, which takes time.

S: It is intense, but it’s what we need, and personally, I enjoy it.

What will you miss most about the play once it’s over?

S: I’m going to miss Quince, and being able to wear a tracksuit on a daily basis.

R: I’m going to miss the banter. When you perform a play, there’s a lot of adrenaline going around, because you’re performing in front of a live audience, so the atmosphere is tense. When the moment it’s over, you see it through quite rose-tinted glasses, and your immediate thought is: ‘That was awesome, I want to do it again now’. You forget all the bad stuff that you hated about it, and say let’s do another one.

Any upcoming projects on the horizon?

R: We’re hoping to, in the future, get the rights to perform Zach Braff’s play ‘All New People’. It’s going to be very different from this one, there’ll be a much smaller cast and much less prep work.

And finally, what tips do you guys have for students who are looking to get involved with arts or drama at Brunel who maybe would like to start their own projects?

R: Make friends with the technicians! That is the key thing.

S: Join drama society! And befriending the committee has really helped.

R: Back in my first year, I was incredibly optimistic, and tried to put on a performance, and got a really good piece of advice: go to people with an answer rather than a question. If you want to put on a performance, don’t go to someone and say can I put on a performance, say I’m interested in doing a performance, I think we should do this, it would have this many actors, or musician - go with a plan, and then ask what they can add to it. As for drama society, it really is very much like a family in that if anyone comes to us we will try and help them, even if they’re not a member.

Due to popular demand,  Drama Society are hosting a second performance of A Midsummer's Wet Dream on Thursday the 26th of February in the Antonin Artuad building at 19:30. Tickets can be brought on the door,  or from the union reception for £3.