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Students actors are on guard!

Drama students Cameron Mair, Cameron Cowen and Becky Lindsay took part in a sword fighting workshop with professional actor Kim Tate (second from right)

Drama students from Sunderland College were on point during a sword fighting workshop in preparation for an upcoming play.

Budding thespians Cameron Cowen, Becky Lindsay and Cameron Mair took part in the stage combat class which was led by professional actor Kim Tate in the college’s Arts Academy drama studios.

Kim, the artistic director of Inter-Acting Theatre Company, said: “The workshop was very successful and the students were focused. I’ve shown them a few simple steps of stage combat and it’s now down to them to practise and perfect.”

The BTEC drama students were taught a variety of techniques and choreographed a theatrical sword fight which they will perform during their production of After Juliet, a play penned by Sharman Macdonald, the mother of Keira Knightley.

After Juliet was written at the request of Keira after she watched Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and it explores the aftermath of their deaths through the eyes of their families, the Capulets and Montagues.

The play’s two-minute fight sequence involves the characters Rosaline, Benvolio and Valentine, and the drama students are determined to make sure the scene looks natural and true-to-life.

Cameron Cowen, 18, who plays the role of Benvolio, said: “The workshop was very challenging as stage combat is much harder than it looks, but we found it really interesting. It allowed us to explore physical theatre and opened up a different style of acting to what we’ve done in the past.

“After Juliet is our final major project which we will be assessed on so we want the fight scene and the entire play to be as successful as we can make it. The detailed choreography in the stage combat scene gives the overall performance a feeling of professionalism, and it makes it more entertaining for the audience. We’re constantly rehearsing to make sure it’s perfect.”

Nenagh Clark, drama lecturer, said: “The sword fighting workshop was a great experience for the three students. It is a very demanding style of acting and concentration is key, so the students had to work very hard but they took everything on board and the final choreographed scene looks amazing.

“Kim was an excellent teacher. He treat the students like they were professional actors, which gave them an insight into the industry and the intensity of rehearsal schedules.”

After Juliet will be performed by 11 second year drama students who have also been involved in the organisation of the show, with responsibilities for production, costume, music, sound and publicity.

The college’s adaptation of the play will be set in the modern day and features a contemporary soundtrack, including music from Massive Attack and Skunk Anansie.

Nenagh added: “The students have worked hard to pull the play together and when they’re on the stage performing it will be a very proud moment. This will be the culmination of everything they have learnt while studying at the college and it’s lovely to see how far they have come in two years.”

After Juliet will be performed on Thursday, May 18 at 1.30pm and 7pm in Sunderland College’s Arts Academy theatre. Tickets, free for the matinee and £5 for the evening performance, are available by emailing Nenagh.clark@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk

For more information about performing arts courses, ring 0191 5116000, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or click here.

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