Students from AUB’s creative courses will be working in collaboration to deliver their rendition of Joel Horwood’s epic drama This Changes Everything at the University’s Studio Theatre on campus.
A group of young women have mysteriously disappeared and cannot be found. They’re not really friends, but they did meet online; brought together by a shared interest.
And while the police call off their helpless search, there’s a platform at sea (where the sight of land can be made with the right conditions), where a disillusioned community ponders the prospect of making their experiment a reality.
Written as part of an initiative to address gender imbalance and inequality, Joel Horwood’s 2015 play This Changes Everything tempts audiences with the allure of an alternative world where an eponymously named The Community enjoy life, free from the shackles of conventional society. But is all as it seems in this utopian paradise?
The show, which runs from Thursday 24 November to Saturday 26 November, will be helmed by professional Theatre and Opera Director Evangeline Cullingworth, whose credits include Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra at Buxton International Festival 2022, RhineGold with Birmingham Opera Company, and La Boheme at Nevill Holt Opera 2022.
Evangeline says: “I was really excited to work with final-year students at AUB, particularly as this has been the first rehearsal process they’ve been through – working every day through the play with longevity and stamina. Being an actor takes integrity, and I think actors find strength in these ensemble casts which really grounds and strengthens them.
“Our tablework for this play became a kind of dramaturgy process where we tore apart the play, investigated it and adapted it to fit our voices and our questions, which felt like quite a new skill for the cast, who did a brilliant job. Every night, we’ve met the subject of the play with honesty, and we invite audiences to share in that too.”
Speaking about how playwright Joel Horwood has directly interacted with the AUB Productions team, she adds: “It’s been unique to work in this way. Often, you’re working with a text where you can’t seek the views of the author, we’ve had more freedom and I think all drama should be as responsive and as immediate.”
This Changes Everything will features performers from BA (Hons) Acting; set and costumes from BA (Hons) Costume and BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume; and hair and make-up from BA (Hons) Make-up for Media and Performance.
Final year BA (Hons) Acting student Madina Orazbekova plays the lead role of Maya. She says: “Maya is a founder-member of The Community, alongside her friend Hanna. She’s very manipulative and rises ranks to create a hierarchy and leadership within the group.
“The idea is that this is a fresh, new society without negative concepts and ideas. But when the prospect of returning to the wider world with this experiment is shared, Maya fears that the world will twist and destroy this escapist, beautiful and pure system.”
After her studies at AUB, budding film actor Maya plans to pitch herself out to agencies, perhaps travelling while working on film acting roles.
Fellow BA (Hons) Acting student Rae Alexander has extensively explored the ‘imaginative and clever‘ role of Basic Jane, a keen escapist compelled to join The Community by the attractive ideal of a new society. She says: “We join the story about a year into the play, and the society is working, but let’s say that it’s too easy to fall into familiar bad habits.
“You’re never a clean slate, even despite these cleansing rituals. As part of this experiment, you yourself are a part of something from before. It’s difficult to break out of routine, and finding new ways of working, as the community discovers, is also difficult.
“We’re a cast of 12 and there are 20 characters in this play, so writer Joel Horwood has been incredibly kind to us in giving us the artistic licence and opportunity to explore our characters more, without having to condense down multiple characters.”
Speaking about the play’s role as a penultimate piece of work for final year students, Rae adds: “It’s been so interesting, as I think this is about us all rallying together and coming full circle in our studies really.
“This is a play about a group of disillusioned young women, and it draws parallels to our study of The Crucible in our first-year study at AUB. I revisited all my work from that and was able to apply it here in a much more contemporary circumstance.”
Aspiring musicals actor Rae hopes to continue working in theatre; writing to agencies and auditioning for roles, while acting in upcoming newly written musical production Masque Macabre, which will debut at Pavilion Dance South West (PDSW) in Summer 2023.
This Changes Everything will be performed at AUB’s Studio Theatre at 19.30 on Thursday 24, Friday 25 November (including a 20-minute company Q&A) and Saturday 26 November (with a further matinee performance at 14.30).