This isn’t just a fairy tale…

Lotty Englishby Director:
What made you want to direct a play like ‘The Ash Girl’?
ItÂ’s got everything, tragedy in the form of AshyÂ’s grief following her fatherÂ’s disappearance, comedy from her friends Otter and Owl, a love story and the added interest of the seven deadly sins living as animals in the forest which surrounds Ash GirlÂ’s home. I wanted to take the Student Workshop in a unique direction, and this gothic fairytale extravaganza does exactly that!

What has been the biggest challenge in directing this play?
Directing such a large cast, especially as we are incorporating physical theatre alongside more conventional acting, sometimes within the same scene! The best thing I have found is to have lots of theatre games up my sleeve, this gets the cast having fun and working together before any sort of formal rehearsal begins.

What would you say to someone who was interested in directing?
DonÂ’t be afraid to experiment, invent your own ways of working – you donÂ’t want your work to just be a copy of something people have already seen. There is such a sense of achievement once the whole thing comes together and a sense of gratitude towards your hard working actors for trusting you and working their socks off.

Julia Bernt, Stage Manager:
Describe a bit about what youÂ’ve done in your role.
I have been responsible for getting together and making the props, building the set and, together with my DSM, keeping a prompts copy where we write down all the blocking and cues. So itÂ’s a lot of stuff that needs to be organized, but is great fun.

In putting it all together, how did you get around limitations in budget whilst at the same time ensuring a strong visual impact?
That is always a challenge especially when you have a fairly big set, as you need to create a backstage and wing space as well as the actual set. But luckily with the Student Workshop we were allowed to use the Drama Department’s props and set pieces so we saved a lot of money on that. I am also a fan of charity shops and Ebay because you can usually get exactly what you need for very little money. It’s fun to be as inventive as you can, and papier-mâché always works!

What would you say to someone who was interested in Stage Managing?
You need to be organized and not afraid to make decisions within seconds. Also it is advisable to be a calm person because on the actual performance days it tends to get very stressful so it helps if the stage manager doesnÂ’t add to the craziness. If youÂ’re interested in it definitely try it, especially a show like ‘The Ash Girl’ where you get to build fun sets, make unusual props and work with a great group people.

Hannah Debansi, Designer:
What exactly has your role entailed throughout the process of putting together ‘The Ash Girl’?
Before the rehearsals started I drew out the designs for the set and helped Lotty work out how the audience and props would fit in. Once that was done I could hand it over to the stage managers to let them build the thing! I also designed three of the promotional posters.

What would you say to someone who was interested in being a designer for a production?
Do it! ThereÂ’s nothing better than sketching something out and watching it become real. Once you start collaborating ideas with the directors thereÂ’s really nothing stopping you experimenting with the space given!

DonÂ’t miss it! Thursday 6th, Friday 7th November at 7.30pm and Saturday 8th at 4pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets on sale now from the box office of the Drama Department in Sutherland House, weekdays 1-2pm. Concessions: £4, Adults: £5.

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