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Theatre Reinvented – RuTC Acting Students Take Audience on Immersive Tours

Friday 20 November 2020

On Tuesday 10 November and Thursday 12 November, Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) Performing and Production Arts Acting Level 2 and Level 3 students hosted a very different kind of theatre performance for RuTC staff and students. Students performed two different adaptations of the fairy tale ‘Hansel and Gretel’ through an immersive tour, taking two members of audience at a time around parks, woods and streets around the college.

One version of the play was designed as an interactive murder mystery, guiding the audience through scenes and letting them be the jury at the end to decide who killed Hansel. The play performed on the other day followed the original fairy tale a bit closer but took elements from a feminist version of the play. Due to Government guidelines, the way of working for many, including Performing Arts students, changed a lot. Through this immersive outdoor performance, as well as socially distanced monologues to a small live audience a couple of weeks ago held by second year students, performances could still take place.

Levi Liston, Performing and Production Arts Level 3 student at RuTC, was one of the actors and said, “For me, and I think for the whole class, the show was very enjoyable, and it was a pleasure to immerse an audience into a performance, to take the audiences minds off the stresses of life in such turbulent times. It was very different from any ordinary performance as it was not a normal stage, instead we took the audience on an exciting journey through the woods behind the College. It was a challenge to do an immersive performance, but it was very enjoyable.”

Velocity Aliermo, Performing and Production Arts Level 3 student at RuTC, added, “It was something completely different to how I was used to performing. At first, I felt quite awkward and uncomfortable with this new style of theatre, but through a lot of practise, I was able to overcome it and give a very new experience for our audience members to see a version of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ in a different light. Getting to perform this classic fairy tale in a different way was an interesting experience for me as an actor and we were able to surprise the audience with this new retelling of the original narrative, which to me was very satisfying.”

Hasti Rezvan, A Level student at RuTC, took part in one of the performance tours as audience. Before the show, she said, “I’m feeling very excited - it’s been such a long time since I have seen a production and I’m looking forward to see how the actors are going to do it.” After the performance, she commented, “It was really good! The quality of acting was great and I really liked the audience interaction as well. I really enjoyed it.”

Jane Swift, Performing Arts teacher at RuTC, said, “Planning and executing a show in the current times is a challenge but we really wanted to give our students the opportunity to show their skills to an audience, so we planned this immersive outdoor performance with two audience members at a time to follow safety guidelines. Students practised in all kinds of weather, faced a flooded tunnel, had guest appearances from passing by dogs and had to raise their voice to be heard next to a train.

“This was the first project students worked on this year and it was an incredible learning curve. They all had different jobs, from scriptwriting to editing, designing, marketing and creating a risk assessment. We are really happy with the outcome and that we could give a number of staff and students the opportunity to see our students perform in this immersive way.”

The next project for the Performing Arts students will be online and based on the play ‘seven methods of killing kylie jenner’, including the theme of Black Lives Matter. Together with her students, Jane is currently considering various ways of presenting to an audience, one of which could be a live video call performance.

For more information about RuTC’s Performing Arts courses, please click here.

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