A play in a week in Bognor Regis

ANDREW WRIGHT Stags and Hens
ANDREW WRIGHT Stags and Hens
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Second-year students take to the stage of Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre at the end of a week of intensive rehearsals.

The musical theatre joint honours company started work on Monday on a revival of Willy Russell’s Stags and Hens: The Remix; they present their production to the public on Saturday, February 25 at 4.30pm and 7.30pm (01243 861010).

Led by resident producer Andrew Wright with direction by Alastair Knights and design by Frankie Huin-Wah, the team will put together all the component parts in just five days.

The play, by the author of Educating Rita, is a comedy of wedding-eve nerves set in the toilets of a tacky Liverpool club where Dave and Linda, unbeknownst to each other, are having parties.

Resident producer Andrew said: “This is the third project of this kind that we have tackled in the last 12 months: an opportunity for students to culminate their training and skills and join a team of professionals on a rollercoaster of a rehearsal process. The team we have engaged for this production is simply outstanding. The students are destined to have an incredible experience.

“The suggestion for the play came from Alastair, the director we have employed. He is based in London, but he was originally from Liverpool so he is scouser.”

After a production of Loveplay by Moira Buffini last October, Andrew said he was wanting something “sparky and engaging and with a good heart”: “I set Alastair the task of presenting me a collection of options from which we chose this play. I was looking at the way we might interact with the play, and this one is almost timeless. It has got a comical setting on the eve of the marriage of the two principal characters. I liked the quick-witted nature of the text.

“It can be done with a small cast, but we have managed to cast about 15 students. We have also split a couple of roles to share responsibilities.”

The production itself will not be examined. As Andrew explains, it is in addition to the students’ course requirements: “They are giving up their reading week to spend 12 hours a day working in a heavily-intensive process. They just have the week. The get-in is on the Sunday. We start rehearsals on Monday (Feb 20) and we perform on the Saturday.

“I think the main driving force is what I call a snowballing process. If you are only rehearsing once a week for eight weeks, you might tend to think ‘Oh, we can do this any time.’ But with this timescale, there is no time to be anything other than 100 per cent committed to the task. The whole show is being created as we go along. The director will be working with the cast while the designer might be working on the set. It’s an unfractured approach.”

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