Curtains Up

Curtains Up: Review of Plenty

Chichester Festival Theatre
Click Here for more info 

Susan Traherne is a former secret agent. Her heroic work with the Special Operations Executive in Nazi-occupied France brought her extremes of danger, as well as adventures and romance. Twenty years on she is living a very different existence in London, as the wealthy wife of a diplomat. Her strained marriage and altered circumstances have threatened her identity and trapped her in a destructive nostalgia for her wartime idealism. In a post-war land of plenty, Susan battles for her own body and mind, as Britain loses its role in the world. Using a non-linear structure, the drama dips backwards and forwards in time to explore how the past and present coexist. On its first appearance at the National Theatre in 1978, David Hare’s play caused a furore, and is now accepted as one of the great modern classics. David Hare’s previous plays for Chichester include South Downs (2011) and Young Chekhov (2015).

What The Press say:

“Plenty – the state of the (post-war) nation drama that firmly put David Hare on the map – premiered at the National in 1978, went to Broadway, and has been revived in the West End. Yet it’s in Chichester that it looks most at home. Rachael Stirling triumphs as a fearless Bond-like figure in Kate Hewitt’s incredibly slick revival, stylishly designed by Georgia Lowe.”
Daily Telegraph

“Rachael Stirling is excellent in Kate Hewitt’s invigorating production of a play about individual and national unease. David Hare’s Plenty is the occasion for a critique of society that has unexpected resonances today. As the first scene is about the British penchant for lies and the second argues that it takes more people to dismantle an empire than to administer it, it hit me that Susan’s disgust at deception and incompetence finds an uncanny echo in the divisions and anger provoked by Brexit. But, if Hare’s elliptical epic lives on, it is because its portrait of individual trauma is matched by its ability to tap into our nation’s permanent unease with itself.”

Our Reviewer says:

Rachel Stirling is the daughter of Diana Rigg and she certainly is a chip off the old block. In David hares play which first appeared in 1978, she plays the role of Susan Traherne who worked with the SOE in Wartime France and hasn’t had a moment’s excitement since. Exaggeration of course, but this pretty much sums up Susan’s post war life and the play of course. Stirling brilliantly portrays the contradictions of this woman seeking to replicate the excitement of the time. She seamlessly moves from young adult to mature and gives the role real gravitas and sympathy.

Hot Off The Press

Hot Off the Press: Dramatis announces FOUR Summer Workshops!

With school holidays nearly upon us, Dramatis has announced four Summer workshops to keep children, teens (and adults!) entertained.

The programme begins on 12th August with ‘Begin to Act’; a drama workshop for adult beginners. Ideally suited to those who have never tried acting or those who have dabbled but are a bit rusty, this two hour workshop will explore the basics of acting, how to improvise, how to build a character and how to act from a script.

For the teenagers, a one day ‘Improv Masterclass’ will take place on 13th August, exploring what it takes to Improvise. There will be plenty of exercises, games and chances to put new skills into practice. Participants will work on creating their own improvised piece that will then be filmed.

For younger children, a 3 hour Movie Madness workshop on 15th August will provide the perfect opportunity for kids to get away from the TV screens and act out scenes from their favourite films in real life!

Children looking for a longer drama experience, can book on to the ‘Horrible Histories’ four day workshop. Participants will act, dance, sing and mime their way through history and work on a finale performance for parents and friends to see at the end of the week.

What are you waiting for? Book a Dramatis Summer Workshop to develop new skills, make new friends and above all, have fun!

For more information on the Adult Courses, click here.
For more information on the Teen and Children’s Workshops, click here.


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. 


Hot Off The Press

Hot off the Press: Dramatis to celebrate First Anniversary with ‘An Evening Soirée’!

Nope, we can’t quite believe it either!

To celebrate our first anniversary, we’re holding an evening of after-dinner entertainment at the Jeneses Arts Centre.

Learn more about the school and our future plans, enjoy two short performances from the Dramatis adults drama group, chat with other local residents over a glass of wine and music from a young musician AND raise money for a Bognor Regis charity. What more reason do you need to switch off the tv and come spend an evening with us instead?!

The first performance is a rehearsed reading. Written by members of Act Your Age (our sociable adults drama group), performers will read through their Sci-Fi/Comedy script based on what happens when the whole world loses their sight.

The second devised performance centres around three women who, while sorting through their recently deceased mother’s belongings, stumble across an object that wreaks havoc.

These performances will be followed by a wine reception.  Accompanied by live music from local musician, Isaiah Brown, it’s a perfect setting for guests to meet and chat with other members of the community!

Tickets are just £5 and include two glasses of wine per person and a £2 donation to Bognor Regis Pier Watch, the local charity that works to protect the Grade II listed building for future generations.

For more information and to buy your ticket, click here.

Hope to see you there!


Curtains Up

Curtains Up: Review of Home, I’m Darling

Home, I’m Darling
Duke of York’s Theatre, London
Click Here for more info.

Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre, Laura Wade’s ‘piercingly funny’ new play transfers to the West End for 11 weeks only. Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans) reprises her acclaimed role as Judy, in Laura Wade’s fizzing comedy about one woman’s quest to be the perfect 1950’s housewife. How happily married are the happily married? Every couple needs a little fantasy to keep their marriage sparkling. But behind the gingham curtains, things start to unravel, and being a domestic goddess is not as easy as it seems.

What the Press Say:

“Katherine Parkinson is outstanding. An amusing, affecting, inspiring evening of soft gingham and hard truths.”
The Times

“A cracking new play wittily directed on a fabulous fifties doll-house set.”
Mail on Sunday

“Sharp, funny and sad. Katherine Parkinson is brilliant.”

Our Reviewer says:

It’s a strange experience to write a review of a play I haven’t seen in its entirety!  Let me explain. All the seats for this play were sold out well in advance of its opening in the West End. Having read rave reviews about its previous performances outside the West End I was desperate to see it ….to the extent that I and my fellow playgoer sat in restricted view seats. And they were restricted to the extent that we couldn’t see all the action! It’s a tribute to the play that, nevertheless,  we thoroughly enjoyed it. Katherine Parkinson  (previous acting roles included being Doc Martin’s receptionist)  commanded the stage. The other actors played their parts more than creditably, but all eyes and ears were on Katherine who played the part of Judy a modern-day woman living out the dream as a would be 50’s housewife. Fantastic 50’s interior and wonderful 50’s clothes and don’t forget the music ‘Why must I be a teenager in love?’ etc etc. Why is she living as if she was a 50’s housewife? The play tells you why and there are a few surprises along the way. The play makes the telling point that we mustn’t get carried away by nostalgia. Katherine’s mother lived through the 50’s. She tells her daughter sharply that it wasn’t all about swishing about in full skirted gingham dresses. It was cold and grey with no central heating and the food was dire. My only quibble is that the reasons behind her adopting a 50’s lifestyle seem a bit thin and rather unlikely but this does not preclude any theatre goer being transported joyfully back to the mock 50’s.