Going to Stratford - The Showcase, June 2015
By Alison Utting
Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew
June 2015, in the heart of Stratford-Upon-Avon: The LADS 'Shrew' ensemble gather in the sunshine next to the River Avon, and then excitedly make our way to the Stage Door of the Royal Shakespeare Company...
Later, as we came off the stage and ran into the wings, Ian Wainwright - producer of the RSC Open Stages Project - whispered to me with a grin, “You just just performed on the stage of the Swan Theatre, Stratford!” We did, we really did! And it was absolutely amazing. Obviously just treading those boards, where so many renowned actors have been before us, was a thrill. But to me it was even more exciting because of all the preparation we had gone through.
We had 10 minutes on that world-famous stage, in which we presented a whistle-stop first half of our production 'The Taming of the Shrew'. But in the months beforehand we had spent many joyful hours soaking up the experience and knowledge of the RSC's top theatre practitioners. As someone who loves theatre and who has always longed to be able to 'do it better', this was an incredible experience. And by the time we were tip-toeing down from Antony Sher's rehearsal studio, past a wall of famous signatures included the lovely David Tenant, and readying ourselves backstage, I felt that we really deserved to be there. As a group, the LADS 'Shrew' ensemble had absolutely thrown themselves into this production. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we were going to make the most of it!
The lights came up and I heard Anna saying her first line to a full auditorium. The next ten minutes went by in a blur. But when Ian said those words as I came off-stage at the end, I whispered back, “They can't take that away from me!”
It was an incredible experience and I really hope that we can pass on the excitement and love of Shakespeare to a new LADS ensemble, and create something just as magical. We may never get to step on-stage at the Swan again, but the memories and the skills will stay with us.