‘The show must go on’: Meet the Cardiff student actors who are moving their plays online

Tickets cost £2 and performances are raising money for local charities.

Cardiff University’s biggest drama society, Act One, are moving online this year due to the pandemic. This means that their usual, popular shows will now be virtual. The plays have so far this year raised money for various charities, including Glitter Cymru and Autism Initiatives. The Cardiff Tab has spoken to Publicity Officer, Isaac Hall, to find out more…

How has it been adjusting to online rehearsals and performing?

Isaac comments that “it has been difficult to say the least, very stressful and a right pain. During the autumn term we were able to rehearse in person and were really excited to be on what we thought was the road to normality in the theatre world, oh how wrong we were…

“Due to the new lockdown, we have had to explore different options with us unable to perform for a live audience and have had the lovely task of spending even more time on zoom.

“It has been a learning curve, that’s for sure, especially with a number of our productions incorporating singing and music, so working out how to manage and navigate the sound lag and all the complications virtual rehearsing throws up. If we have learnt one thing it has been the valuable lesson that technology will mess with you.

“But we are confident, touch wood, that everything will go swimmingly for our performances. Fingers crossed the Cathays Wi-Fi pulls through.”


Why was it important that the play went ahead this year?

Isaac gives a number of reasons for this, including giving freshers and students applying to drama schools opportunities to perform, and also wanting to “recognise how important societies are to the university experience and people’s individual mental and physical health.” He continues to discuss the importance of  “a creative outlet for people all across Cardiff Uni and those remote studying both in the UK and further afield.”

Isaac continued to say that, “Creativity and the ability to express oneself is so important for general mental health and for providing a much needed break from the stresses of Uni work and we are really glad so many students have recognised this and got involved  this year.”

Why did you choose the specific charity you’re supporting?

Act One supports a number of Cardiff charities, as Isaac comments: “Our Annual Variety night went ahead in March this year, in a completely virtual format, raising money for Glitter Cymru, a Cardiff based social meet up group that supports a community of ethnic minority LGBTQ+ people.”

He said this charity was chosen because the “ethos and aims are close to the directors hearts and enabled the production to run as a defiantly accepting project of declaring ‘This is me’.”

Isaac adds that after the “needed outpouring of resistance to systemic racism that occurred over summer, our support for this charity enables the society to give back to a cause that fights this head on and supports communities affected by racial and homophobic prejudices.”

He added, “It was very important, from the get go, that this production go ahead this year as its theme, the songs and monologues making up the content, and the charity it was supporting could not be more relevant.”

Additionally, other Act One production, ‘And Then There Was No Show’ is raising money for ‘Autism Initiatives’.

How have you as a Cardiff Uni student and student actor, adapted to all the lockdown restrictions?

Isaac says that “obviously we have all been sporting very fashionable masks and using gallons of hand sanitiser” but due to Welsh Government restrictions, this has meant a lot of “outdoor filming in groups of four, made up of two households, which has proven quite limiting for the amount of scenes we have been able to film”.

He added that they have worked around this by having “actors housemates filming them, self-taping videos and lots of clever editing and zoom work!

“In many ways, we viewed the situation as an opportunity, not a negative, but a situation with a number of exciting possibilities to pursue. It has really challenged all of our directors, producers, actors, crew members to think outside the box.”


Why should students log on to watch the play?

Isaac responds say: “the experience of virtually watching theatre from the comfort of our sitting rooms is the closest thing we can get to being in the theatre or the cinema at the moment.”

He added, “I say relish every chance to experience this and see what you think. You might be surprised, impressed, challenged, made to think, laugh. Who knows, but it will definitely provide everyone with some much needed joy and entertainment.”

Isaac ends the interview by saying: “What else are you doing really? It’s a pandemic!”

The Remaining Act One Productions are: The Virtuous Burglar (4th April), And Then There Was No Show (18th April), Emma (24th April), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1st May), The Last Five Years (8th May).

All of which will be virtual and tickets are available here.

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• Christmas cards and lonely hearts: Small acts of kindness by Cardiff students over the pandemic