The Workshop Theatre, March 10th
Comic Relief kicked off in style today with the cast of Fresh Meat appearing to deliver an impromptu comedy lecture on Leeds University Campus. With Red Nose Day only two weeks away, I met with Cordi Morrison and Tess Schofield to discuss LUU Theatre Group’s unique contribution to the national fundraising campaign.
A special performance of Oscar Wilde’s infamous play The Importance of Being Earnest will be staged at The Workshop Theatre on Sunday March 10th. What sets this production apart from the running order of TG’s frequent and high calibre theatrical offerings, is that the team has set themselves the challenge of performing the play in a day. They will only have 12 hours to prepare a set and rehearse and will perform the result to their audience in what ever state they find it, come the evening. The stakes, understandably, are high even for this experienced group of performers. Director Cordi has been part of several successful TG productions including Closer and A Streetcar Named Desire. She is working with Tess, who will oversee the technical aspects of the production.
Commendably, this project is not part of a wider scheme taking place throughout the UK, but a unique idea born of Cordi’s desire to contribute something specific to comic relief. They finally settled on putting on a play in a day as a tricky project that would warrant sponsorship. The challenge will kick off at 8am when the cast of 8 comes together to begin their extremely long day.
‘It’s a group directed thing and that’s very much what we were looking for in auditions’, Cordi tells me. ‘We were looking for people willing to get stuck in, help each other out and give each other direction, all in addition to being very strong in their own character roles’.
‘We’ve got a really good group dynamic’, Tessa adds. ‘We have a mixture of individuals taking part. Some are third years but there is a first year involved and this is her first production’.
‘It’s exciting because this is something no-one has really done before. We chose The Importance of being Earnest partly because it is so well known. It has been made into a film and it is quite an accessible text. We’ve had a positive reaction to the choice of play! Even people who aren’t that into theatre respond enthusiastically when we tell them what we are doing, which is so encouraging. We also chose the play partly because it is comedy. That way if it all goes wrong it won’t be a complete disaster!’
Most importantly, however, the age of the play works in their favour, meaning that none of the money raised from ticket sales will have to go into purchasing expensive rights to performance. All proceeds will be directly channeled into the Comic Relief fund, which awarded £2,000,000 alone to its Africa based initiatives in 2011.
Despite this being a bona fide TG production, the cast have not taken any funding from the society, relying instead on money raised from a karaoke fundraising night put on earlier this week.
‘The Karaoke went really well, which is good because it can sometimes go either way! A bit like our play I guess!’
‘We think that’s one of the selling points of this production. People will come, just to see whether we can pull it off!’
You can show your support by sponsoring the cast on their JustGiving page here. Tickets to the performance are being sold in the union foyer over the course of the week.