The Cotswold Players at the RSC – in our dreams?
The fairies at the Cotswold Playhouse are stretching their shimmery wings and re-stocking their pockets with magic dust after hearing that they’ve been invited to perform an excerpt from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre in Stratford upon Avon.
The production was the highlight of the Cotswold Players’ centenary celebrations last year and was one of 52 regional entries in the RSC’s Open Stages project – a scheme to encourage the very best of professional theatre to share skills with the very best of amateur theatre. Only 14 productions have made it through to the final stage – winning a chance to be coached by top RSC drama tutors, followed by a performance on a stage normally reserved for the UK’s finest actors – including Sir Ian McKellen, who officially opened the newly rebuilt Playhouse just over two years ago.
The Players have been praised for their extremely accomplished performance by the Gloucestershire Drama Association and the National Operatic & Dramatic Association. They’ve already received two award nominations; one for visual excellence and another for best drama. The adjudicator noted that, “…these were no ordinary shy retiring Shakespearean fairies – they were feisty, mischievous and downright naughty at times.” One member of the audience felt moved enough to write, “Last evening I left the Playhouse with a hankie damp from wiping away tears of laughter – and admiration.”
Backstage, Jenny Earle is delighted to have been recognised by the RSC for her expertly designed and hand-crafted costumes, all inspired by the individual characters of the fairies – from a magisterial Oberon to a gutsy, singing Cobweb, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse in her trademark black beehive and sparkling silver shift.
But perhaps the biggest accolade of all goes to 17 year-old Nic Sims, who has been given the honour of ending the evening’s showcase by performing Puck’s closing speech from the play. His performance, described as “outstanding” by a number of critics, has caught the interest of Guildford School of Acting, winning him a place to study for a BA in Acting. Nic’s dream is to spend the rest of his life in the theatre, whether in Shakespeare, serious drama or musicals (audiences may well remember him as love-struck geek Seymour in The Little Shop of Horrors last year) but a lack of sponsorship may mean that he won’t be able to go. Either way, his talent and that of his fellow fairy band will surely enthral the audience at the RSC, even if just for one magical night.
And here’s a glimpse:http://vimeo.com/30481027