A co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur companies across the UK

This is an arrangement developed between the RSC and Equity

“It’s like the Eurovision Song Contest”

Whether they linked in from a living room or a broom cupboard, all the amateur groups were passionate at the first online feedback session, says Poulton Drama’s Quince, Cathy Lloyd

Time: 7.00pm

Location: Grand Theatre Blackpool

Feeling: Anxious

After another crazy day in the life of a Drama teacher, trying not to break hearts when casting the annual Musical, I arrived flustered at the stage door of Blackpool’s Grand Theatre. The town was more packed than usual, due not only to the Illuminations, but because Rudimental (apparently I should know who they are?) were playing at the Winter Gardens. Anyway, after negotiating the lift, I arrived last (as usual!) at the Studio annex to the Grand. They have kindly let us use the space for some of our rehearsals in preparation for the week we will spend performing in the main house.

Tony, our director – and the most organised man I have ever met – had rigged up a projector at the far end of the space so that we could all watch the hangout on the big screen! Finally, at 7.10, we were all connected. The similarities to when they cut to the different countries at the scoring section of The Eurovision Song Contest are uncanny. It was lovely to see all the other groups as Director Erica, and Associate Directors Kim and Sophie visited each of us in turn.

Luckily, we were first up. The feedback on our first rehearsal tasks (performing Shakespearean speeches) was really detailed and we took notes frantically. Everyone waited with baited breath for their feedback and it was lovely to see them beaming with pride at the compliments be they “a powerful strong status and lightness in attitude” (Gary, Flute), or “an intelligent and heartfelt performance” (Sarah, Titania) to name a few. Kim asked Roger and Ian to perform their duologue for all, and then Tony delivered his monologue. All three of them were calm, collected and really applied the feedback that they were given.

Erica, Kim and Sophie moved onto the other groups. Some were in a living room, others in a broom cupboard but all displayed passion and commitment to the task. All three directors were passionate about the spontaneity. They made a really interesting comparison between Shakespeare and Pinter: Whereas the former “writes everything we think”, in Pinter’s writing, a lot is said between the words. We were told to “Trust that the words will let you find the emotion.” Some groups struggled with memory lapses but the team pulled them through by feeding the lines. The overriding feeling from the whole session was fun!

And now for Task 2… I won’t give too much away yet, but let’s just say “I’ll be there”, “singing” and being “Happy” while “Relighting my fire” ready to go “Uptown” with a “funk”y groove!

Watch this space!


Cathy Lloyd is a drama teacher from Blackpool, and will play Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the RSC and Poulton Drama at the Grand Theatre Blackpool, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

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