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An Interview With: EUSC

BySarah Benson

Oct 11, 2017

The Edinburgh University Shakespeare Company (EUSC) will be putting their best foot forward this year with their production of Romeo and Juliet. The Student spoke to Finlay McAfee (this year’s director) along with Grace Dickson (President), and Molly Teshuva (Producer) about the Company’s plans for the year ahead and all the exciting things they’ve got lined up for us.

Of course, this year being a particularly momentous one for the society, with their 10th anniversary coming up, the society is planning an equally momentous show. McAfee has high hopes for Romeo and Juliet, and the society plans to “pump a lot into it”, throwing in what sounds like a creative and complex set; he explains: “[it’s] a big, technical-heavy show and the lighting and tech are gonna be quite explosive and fun”.

Having previously directed a handful of plays at the Bedlam Theatre over the last three years, McAfee has some ideas to keep the audience’s attention rapt despite the fact that they are likely to be well-acquainted with the bitter ending: “I think the thing with Romeo and Juliet is that everyone coming to it knows how it ends…so the real problem we have to face is how do we have any kind of tension and drive with that.”

He plans to combat this by “play[ing] with youthful love, hope, and blind ambition”, and focusing on the motif of fate and destiny as much as possible. It was particularly delightful to hear that the production team are going to “use the ensemble as a framing device to wrap the show with”, and the company are clearly striving to put on a particularly sensory and holistic show.

On top of working towards their spring production, the team also host numerous workshops throughout the year, and perhaps most excitingly, their 8th annual Masquerade ball is coming up in February. Dickson explained that this years’ ball, held in The Caves, is going to be particularly special, nodding to the famous scene during which Romeo and Juliet’s paths first cross, and she claims to have “a few surprises for this year”, which gives us something to look forward to.

Last weekend the team held audition workshops in preparation for the casting due to take place shortly (with another round of workshops this weekend). Dickson describes how it is “not an advantage or disadvantage if you come” but that they are useful for hopeful actors to “put faces to names, talk to [the team] and see that they’re not as scary as they look”. Auditions for the show will be taking place between Thursday 12th and Saturday 14th October and McAfee, explains: “The aim of the auditions is to first get a feel for what people are gonna be best suited to, but also to kind of see how they deal with the language and then [during] call backs we throw them all together and see what sparks”.

The whole team urges students not to “let anything stop you auditioning – Shakespeare seems scary at first but it really isn’t once you take the time to understand it”, giving the pivotal advice to never go into an audition cold. Teshuva explained that while in previous years ‘audition packs’ were distributed on the day of the casting, they are now handed out in advance in the hopes of giving students a real chance to familiarise themselves with the script, and she described this as “a good opportunity to take advantage of”.

As a continually growing society, the company expect more than 200 auditionees to attend the casting, fighting for a place on a modest cast of 20. Teshuva urged students not to be put off by these odds either: “Even if you don’t get cast necessarily in Romeo and Juliet you should and are more than welcome to be involved in the Shakespeare Company itself.”

The company are hosting a workshop in 5th week with Frantic Assembly (The company who brought to us The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time), and are also hoping to put on a Radio Show of a condensed play later in the year, alongside a mini project to be launched in Semester 2.

Clearly there’s a huge amount to get involved in this year, so keep up to date via the Society Facebook Page, to find out more about audition sign-ups, the bi-weekly Sunday workshops and socials like last month’s glitter party.

Photo Credit: Edinburgh University Shakespeare Company

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