Online Playreading Group returns to keep West Sussex residents connected

When lockdown was first announced back in March, we were quick to adapt our programming and move to a virtual format. The new Zoom led online programme included workshops and courses for residents of all ages which culminated in filmed performances that were featured on the Dramatis Online Stage (our You Tube account).

The unexpected highlight of the programme was the introduction of our adults play-reading group; ‘Wine and Wilde’. This online activity had such an overwhelming response, that we decided to keep it running post-lockdown and are considering introducing an ‘IRL’ version in a local wine bar once government guidelines allow.

Wine and Wilde is ideal for adults who are completely new to acting or nervous about committing to a course. There are no lines to learn, and no stages to perform on! Participants are pre-assigned characters in scenes from an Oscar Wilde play which they then read through as a small group. In keeping with the informal nature of the group, participants are encouraged to bring along a glass of wine or alternative beverage of choice.

As Janet, one of the attendees, explains: “I was hesitant at first as I’m quite self-conscious, but I had so much fun!”. Marty, another attendee, adds “It’s been great to meet new drama lovers and have something to look forward to” while Mandy says, “Everybody’s really friendly and supportive”.

In a climate in which the impact of loneliness has been acutely felt, groups like this have become a lifeline.

As Dramatis Principal, Suzy Duxbury, explains: “our online playreading group aims to keep residents connected during these uncertain times and provide a much-needed space for escapism and laughter”.

The performing arts industry has been hit particularly hard by recent events and so we were delighted to see our Wine and Wilde group featured by UK News Group and Drama & Theatre alongside fellow industry friends, The Playground Theatre, Nick Hern Books, Belgrade Theatre and Up Ere Productions.

Wine and Wilde Play-reading Group
Format: Online sessions run via Zoom (in blocks of four)
Date/Time: Fridays from 7.30pm to 8.15pm
Price: £10 (per block of four sessions)
Upcoming sessions:
25 Sept/2 Oct/9 Oct/16 Oct: Lady Windemere’s Fan
6 Nov/13 Nov/20 Nov/27 Nov: An Ideal Husband

For more information about Wine and Wilde, CLICK HERE.


Dramatis Online launches because…The Show Must Go On!

In response to the current climate, Dramatis, we’ve adapted our programme and moved online. In addition to running discounted youth drama classes through Zoom, we’ve introduced a new (free!) adults play-reading group and a free video messaging service that people can use to send personalised messages to friends and family celebrating a special occasion.

Our new weekly Youth Drama online classes begin with a group Zoom session where students run through 15 minutes of warm up exercises together. Pupils then log back in at their allotted time for a 20 minute one-to-one session. During this, they are given a series of monologues and personalised tuition on skills that help them to get the most out of the text. At the end of the nine-week term, pupils perform a chosen monologue to camera. This ‘Self-Tape’ is uploaded to the Dramatis Online Stage (a You Tube account) so they can share their work with friends and family. With a recent report from Theatre Industry publication The Stage, confirming that ‘Self-Tapes’ are now the most favoured audition style required by Casting Agents and Drama Schools, it’s an excellent discipline for young students to get experience in. Prices for the nine-week term are just £60 (a 40% reduction on the usual price).

Currently there are three Youth Drama classes due to start at the end of April. The Globe group is for ages 10-12 and runs every Monday from 27th April to 22nd June (from 2.30pm). The Royal Court group is for ages 7-9 and runs every Tuesday from 28th April to 23rd June (from 2.30pm). The Barbican group is for ages 13 plus and runs every Friday from 1st May to 26th June (from 6pm).

To keep adults entertained and help ease the loneliness of social distancing, Dramatis is launching Wine and Wilde on Monday 4th May. This low pressure (and free!) play-reading group will bring people together via a Zoom each Monday at 7.30pm to read through a segment of an Oscar Wilde play together. Attendees are encouraged to bring along a glass of wine (or alternative beverage choice!) and enjoy a de-brief of the text together afterwards.

And to spread the joy of drama to the wider community, Dramatis principal (Suzy Duxbury), is running a free personalised video message service. Know someone who is celebrating a birthday or special occasion in isolation? Suzy will create a 30 second video message (in the style of a famous dramatic character!) for you to send them that will make their day! Choose from Poppy from Trolls, Long John Silver or Corona Caveman.

If you’d like to learn more about any of our online activities or sign up your child to a free online  taster session, please contact us on info@dramatis.co.uk


Dramatis to run two FREE Youth Workshops in Chichester!

To celebrate our expansion into Chichester and give people a feel for what Dramatis Youth Drama Classes are about, on Saturday 15th February, we will be running two FREE workshops in our new Roussillion Park location.

‘Magic and Mayhem’ for 5-6 year olds will run from 10.15am to 11.15am while ‘Myths and Legends’ for 7-9 year olds will run from 11.45am to 12.45pm. Both workshops will include drama games and exercises that are both fun and rewarding.

Drama offers a huge number of benefits to children, teaching them valuable skills that they can carry through life. In a tech dominated world, it encourages creativity and self expression and nourishes their imagination. It can teach a child to think on their feet and outside the box and can help them to both stand out from the crowd and to work within a group. One of the most important skills it brings is an increased level of self confidence, plus the opportunity to make friends outside their usual circuit. So what are you waiting for!

To sign your child up for a FREE place, email Dramatis on info@dramatis.co.uk.


Backstage chats…with Harrie Hayes

‘Backstage Chats…’ is a series of interviews with our drama heroes! From actors and directors to marketing peeps and crew, these conversations explore life behind the scenes of various drama related careers. We hope they inspire and motivate our Dramatis members in their own journeys to the stage!

This month, we spoke to the incredibly talented and beyond amusing Harrie Hayes;  an actor, writer and comedy performer who is also part of the surreal, award-winning comedy group zazU (who we are obsessed with and stalk down at every opportunity).

zazU have had sell out runs at the Soho Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and are currently developing their work for television and radio. Most recently, Harrie joined the cast of ‘Horrible Histories’, taking on the iconic roles of Elizabeth I, Marie Antoinette and Freydis Eriksdottir along with many (many!) more.

Dramatis: What has been the best part about working on HH?
Harrie: Getting to try out loads of accents, wigs and costumes! I play over 50 characters in the new series so one of the most fun parts was coming up with something unique and funny about each one. Another great part of being in Horrible Histories is that I got to meet the rest of the cast and we’ve all become really good friends.

Dramatis: How do you guys keep a straight face while you’re acting these scenes? Or do you just get the giggles a lot?!
Harrie: Oh, we laughed A LOT! At the end of shoot days you have to try to be really sensible because there’s not enough time to mess around (people need to get home!) There was one time when we were filming a sketch at the end of the day and my fellow actor, Emily Lloyd-Saini, was playing a character who had a pot on her head. The prop pot made her voice sound really weird and every time she talked I started laughing. There was genuinely a point where I didn’t think I’d be able to do the scene at all and that we’d have to abandon it! But the BEST BEST BEST thing to do is put your hands above your head and stretch up then take a few deep breaths that should work. Having a giggle is part of the fun though…!

Dramatis: Tell us about your career so far and what you’ve been involved in?
Harrie: I did plays at school and some amateur dramatic Shakespeare productions when I was doing my A levels which was really fun! I didn’t go to drama school. In fact, that’s important to know – drama school isn’t everything! You can find courses to learn skills like movement and how to use your voice well, that paired with experience can be as valuable as drama school. I did a lot of fringe theatre and student films to practice acting. The biggest opportunities I’ve ever had have come from things I’ve made myself. I got my current agent after she came to see my comedy sketch group doing a show. Since then I’ve worked in tv, films and theatre. I’m writing a new play at the moment which I’ll start performing later in the year too which is very exciting!

Dramatis: What do you think is the secret to your great comedy?
Harrie: I’ve always tried to make people laugh, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. What I’ve learned is it’s always worth risking looking like an idiot. The other thing that I really believe is that you have to listen to the audience, if they find something funny do a bit more of it, if they don’t move on and always treat your audience with respect – they’ve paid to see you after all!

Dramatis: Who/what do you find funny at the moment?
Harrie: I find the sound otters make when they eat the funniest thing at the moment. Look it up.

Dramatis: What has been your funniest/best moment in your career to date?
Harrie: My best career moment to date is the day we filmed the dance for Coco Chanel in Episode 2. I was living my childhood dream of being a pop star! My funniest moments I’ve ever had have been creating and performing shows with my comedy group Zazu. There are very few people that can make me laugh as much as they do.

Dramatis: Best character to play in horrible histories and why?
Harrie: My favourite one to play was Queen Elizabeth I. The costume and hair and make up made me feel really powerful. Everyone wanted selfies with me in the full costume and I found myself being more mischievous just like the character on days I was playing her! Also, we got to film in an old mansion where the real Queen Elizabeth I had stayed during her reign which was very very cool!

Dramatis: Best tip/tips to get into television?
Harrie: It’s a different route for everyone for some people it happens very early in their career, for other people it takes more time. I’d say the best way of getting into television nowadays is by concentrating on making your own videos or sketches. Make things on your own or with your friends that make you laugh. Not only will it be really fun but you’ll then have a load of videos you can send out to casting directors and agents to show them what you can do!

A huge thanks to Harrie for taking the time to speak with us. You can keep updated on her next roles by following her on Instagram here or Twitter here.