Drama Studio students team with New York's Stella Adler actors

Students from The Drama Studio at IPAC are rehearsing Much Ado About Nothing in conjunction with the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York. They perform in collaboration with students in New York. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Students from The Drama Studio at IPAC are rehearsing Much Ado About Nothing in conjunction with the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York. They perform in collaboration with students in New York. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

After three years of using technology such as Facebook and Skype to put on a trans-Pacific Shakespearean performance, The Drama Studio has worked out most of the kinks.

The Illawarra-based theatre group is again teaming up with students from the Stella Adler School of Acting in New York to bring the Bard's works to life in a modern-day, internet-based interpretation of Much Ado About Nothing.

Director Fiona Finley said the work's themes of mistaken identity, deception and gossip tied in perfectly with the experience of sculpting a personality on social media different from your own - an experience many teenagers could relate to.

"We chose this one because it's all about identity theft and how we appear on Facebook," she said.

"We have these two different lives, our social media profile where we're looking at getting friends and likes and comments and it's quite an anonymous world, so when that does bleed over into our real emotions and real life, when the two of them collide, the reality of what is happening of Facebook and what is happening in life, it can have these really horrible consequences.

"By using these Shakespeare plays, we're using timeless themes that can adapt to the different social medias that we're using today and it makes it more relevant to the kids and the language more accessible."

The drama group has previously tackled Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream for their dual performances, experimenting with different technologies each time.

This year they have utilised Facebook a little more, creating pages and groups and pre-shooting videos and images to be projected on to the IPAC stage's cyclorama as part of the performance.

"Each year we just try a new medium mixed in with some of the old mediums, to follow what's going on in technology," said Finley.

For the first time, students will be working with teenagers from Stella Adler's Outreach Division, which provides free acting training to low-income, inner-city high schoolers.

While the students taking part in the co-production work together to pre-record the relevant parts and come up with solutions that will allow the Wollongong actors to appear in the New York stage production and the American actors to be seen at the IPAC, the live parts of the performance differ depending on what each cast has decided to do.

Finley is flying to New York after the show's debut in Wollongong to watch the play from the other side.

"The live stuff is entirely up to what the students decide works," she said.

"Some scenes may be exactly as we created them and others may have a different slant.

"It's an amazing opportunity for the students to be able to perform on an international stage that hopefully gives them a love for arts and theatre and opens up the world a bit, too, without the cost of international travel."

KATE WALSH

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop