An UnScene History

Josip Martincic reviews Drama Society's inclusion event, the UnScene Festival, which featured the theme 'History'.

Fresh off their win for Society of the Year at this year’s Socs Ball, Drama Society puts on their termly inclusion event demonstrating creative works in progress.

Drama Society markets this event as an opportunity to celebrate new writing by bringing together creatives from all over campus. This UnScene, more than any other, truly illustrated just how varied the mediums in which budding artists of our campus work in are.

The theme of history, conceived by the 1st Year Representative and co-organiser Sorel Wilson, was explored in the festival through a variety of genres. The audience was treated to a full visual and aural experience. Although I personally feel that last term’s overall execution showed more of a commitment to the theme of ‘Apocalypse’ through the aesthetic, including costume, set and stage design, it is entirely understandable to allow for the pieces to take centre stage. The minimal design elements allowed for a smooth transition between the performances and it in a way demonstrated Jane Holloway Hall as a historic space too.

The eclectic genres ranged from poetry to song cycles and videos of creative writing, with the usual plays and, of course, a set of improvised comedy from the stellar Holloway Players. Though not historically linear, the pieces could be broken into influenced by past and commenting how what is happening now is making history. The evening kicked off with Imogen Mills’ use of the Old English poem ‘The Seafarer’ as a stimulus to create new words for indescribable feelings and ideas. We then jumped through time to ‘Deeds, Not Words’ by Elinor Boult, a piece about the Emily Wilding Davison incident, which felt appropriate and, in a way, respectful.

Several pieces stood out in particular. Will Maidment’s ‘Fukuyama’s Children’, directed by Emil Rousseau and performed by Hannah France and Jess Coburn, demonstrated an excellent use of comedic timing, as well as a successful blend of emotions, specifically uncertainty, love and hopefulness. Ellie Myers wrote three fantastic and very different poems and it was a joy to see them come to life in such varied ways. ‘Our Eden’ by Alex Harper, directed by Lucy Carruthers and performed by Robbie Caprari-Sharpe, felt Artaudian and Beckett-like, and was a truly fascinating and beautifully written exploration of time.

It was lovely to also see Jack Fairhurst’s ‘Dead Man Talking’, Royal Holloway’s entry to the London Student Drama Festival. Directed by Rosa Higgs and performed by Lewis Shepard and Fab Piolini-Castle, this was one of the pieces that was best received by the packed JHH audience. The evening ended with ‘District’, a song cycle written by Flynn Sturgeon and Ellie Cozens. It was truly interesting to end the night with this, as it made me reflect on individual stories and relationships as smaller, but nevertheless important, histories. Stand out of the performance was Eden Tinsey, as her voice carried power and emotion that touched all in the room.

While there were clear elements that could have benefited from finer detail, such as spelling errors in the programme, a not ideal time-split of the two acts and not quite structured compering, what came across was certainly what they were aiming to achieve. The atmosphere was positive, collaborative and encouraging. It was a platform for creative individuals to get feedback on what they’re working on and to present their pieces in front of an audience. For that, I commend the efforts of everyone.  

It was lovely to hear co-organiser of the event and Vice-President of the society, Ellie Cozens, say that for the 1st time UnScene will also take place in term 3. I am sure it will be as delightful and interesting as this term’s wonderful production. Well done to all involved.