Exeter University Theatre Company’s (EUTCo) performance of extracts from their production One for Sorrow was powerful, intriguing, and tense. The experience of theatre over Zoom was something new for me, as I have not seen anything like this before (despite a neighbour having attended a Zoom pantomime, and my friends enjoying online concerts). I have always loved going to the theatre, and it is great that technology has given EUTCo the opportunity to present their performance to a widespread audience, despite not being able to showcase it in person.
The acting was incredibly impressive from all of the cast, but a highlight for me was Tom Bosher, who played the part of John. His opening monologue was captivating and emotional, and his responses to other characters were fascinating and revelatory of the other characters’ feelings and views.
The play was also excellently produced by Emily Attenburrow, with Livi Pilkington as the Production Supervisor. The performance was conveyed efficiently over Zoom and it was clear that the production team and cast were extremely well prepared. This bodes well for the in-person production that is planned to take place in term 3, restrictions permitting. For now, members of EUTCo have clearly put in so much effort to make this show go ahead under such difficult circumstances and it has definitely paid off!
Following the performance, I had the opportunity to ask cast member, Tom Bosher, and Production Supervisor, Livi Pilkington some questions:
Bridie Adams: What was the rehearsal process like under such difficult and unusual circumstances, not being able to meet in person or rehearse in the ‘normal’ sense?
Tom Bosher: The rehearsal process was surprisingly fun. Not doing it in person was frustrating at first to think about but after meeting the people I was doing it with (online) it was quickly something I looked forward to every day. They’re just super super lovely. Zoom means technicalities of acting are a bit more focussed and thinking about where you’re looking is a bit more, well, just technical but once you’ve figured out what you’re doing it’s a lot easier to let yourself just do the performing.
Livi Pilkington: The cast and crew have got on so well and collaborated under such difficult circumstances. It has been challenging at times given the ever-changing restrictions on us as a theatre company; particularly as drama rehearsals were not given the same priority as academic groups or sports groups by the university. There were even times that it felt like a performance of any kind would be impossible but continuing to create theatre was really important for all of us. The arts have suffered so immensely during this pandemic and finding a way to reimagine performance in the digital age was a rewarding experience for all of us. It gives us hope for the new possibilities of digital theatre in the future.
BA: Do either of you have a favourite or a least favourite character?
LP: My favourite character is definitely John. He reacts so well to every difficult question posed to him and there’s a real feeling of his own sense of self throughout. I think you can really tell he is aware of his race and how it is affecting the space he is in at that particular moment. Tom also brings so much to this role with his timing and blunt deliveries, which you can see really make the family squirm and add to their uncomfortableness surrounding the topic of race.
TB: Because John is much more of, as I said, a reflector than a subject character like Chloe you’re supposed to focus on a lot and be comparing yourself to, he’s blunt and truthful so I can say things I might not normally have the courage to say in reality, so it’s quite freeing in that regard. But also his contained politeness itself is a lie for him which he has to grit his teeth and smile through, having to be polite because he’s learnt that’s what makes his life easier becomes tiring for him and for me if that makes sense.
Since this performance was only extracts, could you give me any more insight into the rest of the play?
LP: These extracts covered important themes from what I’d consider to be the first half of the play and ended with a real insight into what is to come – even more tension and questioning between each of the characters. Without giving too much away, I think the full performance shows even more of the microaggressions and racial prejudices that each of the characters hide. I really hope we can show this in person in term 3!
TB: In terms of insights into my character specifically, I’d say John is purposefully quite an ambiguous character so there’s not much to say. That being said, I’d say you can look forward to seeing other character’s true colours through him, he’s more of a reflector than an actual object/subject of a character. It was interesting getting into his character because he gives away so little, but I picked up on certain traits of his speech and how he treated other characters compared to others and let that influence the rest of my behaviour.
– Bridie Adams
Featured Image Source: Exeter University Theatre Company