Here’s the first in an occasional series of guest postings on our blog.
The theatre students of John Abbott College, located in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, Canada, will be taking their production of Dylan Thomas’ play Under Milk Wood to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2013, and we invited them to write a blog about their adventure.
Here’s the first instalment from cast member Natasha La Rosa.
Journey to Edinburgh
Our journey began September 6th, 2012 when we were called in for our auditions to perform in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013 , with Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. John Abbott College was the only Canadian school selected by the International Collegiate Theatre Festival (ICTF) to perform at the Edinburgh festival Fringe-the biggest performing arts festival in the world. Joan McBride (Director) called us in and with our script in hand and a song and dance prepared, we were ready to show her how much we wanted to be part of this project. After performing the opening passage twice, Joan asked me to step behind the curtain and “tell the story”.
“Under Milk Wood, is a play for voices” she explained “so I want you to tell the story, let me see the town, smell the sea and hear the people using only your voice”. Standing behind the curtain I looked at my script confused. I took a minute, took a breath, closed my eyes and pictured what Llareggub looked like to me. It all came together. That was the first step in realizing this was a project I really wanted to be a part of, and something that I, along with 31 others couldn’t wait to bring to Edinburgh.
Four meetings came after September 6th. We met up at least once a month to talk about the play, the costumes, the venue and the different ways to get our voices out there and help sell our show. After a handful of bake sales, candy sales, grocery bagging, donations, can collection and ticket sales, we were able to minimize the cost of our trip. Being all students, we were not going to let something like money get in the way of a once in a lifetime experience. This bonded us as a group, as well as an ensemble that in the end paid off.
May 27th is when the real work began. We all came to the rehearsal hall ready to work, and create a piece of theater that meant something to someone. Rehearsals went from 9:30- 6pm with a few breaks in between. We were so fortunate to have Alana Cosgrove, a former John Abbott student, as well as a veteran of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe helping us with all our musical numbers. Carol Harwood, a former John Abbott movement teacher joined us in the second week to help with chorus movement and the welsh country dance .
Our rehearsals were straight and to the point. After the first week we had already finished our rough blocking, and I remember thinking to myself how crazy that was, and how great it was that we had gotten so much done in only the first week! We continued working hard for the next couple weeks to be ready for our opening performance in Montreal on June 11th. As we continued rehearsals, we also continued to sell tickets, and by May 27th, opening night had sold out, as well as the second and third show.
Being able to perform a Dylan Thomas classic in Edinburgh is a dream come true to the cast and crew of Under Milk Wood. I can promise you that we have read this play a few dozen times, and every time Dylan’s love for words and his eye for detail is not lost on us. You can close your eyes and listen to us perform this show and you feel as though you are transported to this town, where the dogs shout and the cows low. It isn’t possible to read this play, or watch it be performed and be confused, or get lost. This production of Dylan Thomas’ famous play for voices provides a different approach to this story in it’s rapid fire staging and orchestration of voices. We are all looking forward to bringing our vibrant & colourful rendition of this profound and timeless tale to Edinburgh in August. Everything is set up for you to just follow along and love the words- and the experience of that special place, Llareggub.
Blog written by Natasha La Rosa