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A scene from La Casa Nova at Palace Court Theatre featuring BA (Hons) Acting students in period costume.

La Casa Nova: AUB Productions presents a comedy that spans the centuries

Photos by Scarlett Weg


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Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) students once again took to the stage at the Palace Court Theatre in a unique production of Carlo Goldoni’s La Casa Nova.

Considered by Goldoni to be his best play, La Casa Nova follows the hilarious trials and tribulations of Anzoletto, as he tries to bring his new apartment up to the demanding standards of his fastidious wife Cecilia.

AUB Productions staged the play in two time periods, with certain performances taking place in the 1770s and others in contemporary times. Cast members and costumes varied according to the setting, as did the script, which BA (Hons) Acting student Henry Tran describes as one of the harder parts of staging the contemporary version.

"We had to adapt the script quite a lot for the contemporary version," he says, "Removing mentions of Restoration ideas like dowries and ducats and such.

"I think [the changes have] paid off. Some moments have, in my opinion, been made even funnier. In one moment, we replaced 'your illustrious excellency' with 'sir', creating some fun sibilance and wordplay - 'sir's most humble servant'."

Henry's co-star Megan Barnwell, who appears in both productions as Cecilia, adds:

“When you know a script and your lines so well, sometimes it turns into autopilot. For example, in the contemporary version, Count Ottavio no longer had his ‘Count’ title, affecting many of my lines, because I quite often refer to him as ‘Count’.

“Although this was a challenge, it was refreshing because going into autopilot is not necessarily a good thing. You can lose sense of where you are in the play and exactly what your character is thinking and feeling. Therefore, it reminded me to be more present and ask myself constantly exactly why Cecilia is saying what she is saying.”

“The production process for La Casa Nova has been unlike any I’ve ever been a part of before,” says Lucy Rose Hutchinson.

“As some roles are double cast, we’ve been able witness the impressive range of approaches the different actors have had used for the characters. For example, I play Lucietta in the period piece, and Lily Barbra plays her in the contemporary piece.

“Having met up and discussed our ideas for the character a few weeks into the rehearsal process, we soon realised that we had opposite interpretations of the character; Lily playing her as a bouncy, bubbly maid, while I was acting as a blunt, snappy maid. It’s been so fun to watch two totally different productions blossom, not only from the same text, but at the same time.”

The differences in characterisation between the two time periods extends right into the accents, with the characters in the 1770s production using Italian accents.

“A challenging moment was learning the Italian accent,” says Avery Kirin, who had to create four characters across both versions of the show, including a workman and a bailiff. “With how different it is to an RP accent; it required a lot of focus and dedication to adapt.”

Lucy says she too found learning the Italian accent challenging, “But I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. The cast have really been in it all together, helping each other, and hopefully by show day we’ll all sound like true Italians!”

Following graduation, Megan says she hopes to find herself an agent and pursue professional acting.

“However, I am not naïve to the fact that this is a very competitive industry,” she explains. “Therefore, I am also planning on creating my own work. A few of my course mates and I are planning on writing a play and seeing where this could take us, entering festivals and so on.”

Similarly, Lucy is already auditioning for professional acting work for after she finishes university, while also planning on devising a piece with friends. Meanwhile, Avery intends to begin training as an intimacy co-ordinator and to continue working in their youth leadership role.

Henry says he intends to look for voice work after graduating, "...building up some funds and investing in a home studio and a voice reel.

"I've already done some work for a mod called 'Fallout: London' and my intention is to voice more video game characters in the future."

Like other AUB Productions shows, La Casa Nova is the result of collaboration between several courses at AUB, including the BA (Hons) Acting, Costume, Make-up for Media and Performance and Performance Design and Film Costume disciplines.

The show ran from 15–18 May 2024 at the Palace Court Theatre in Bournemouth town centre.

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