In the Winter Term Seaford students presented their engaging and atmospheric production of Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. We caught up with some of the cast to find out how they coped performing the notoriously difficult play, and to find out what drama is like behind the scenes at Seaford College.
Freddie Miller: Dr Faustus
Max Jukes: Mephistopheles
Chloe Gooding: Good Angel; Vintner; Old Woman
Violet Nicholls: Valdes; Robin; Devil
George Lawson: Cornelius; Rafe; Devil
Ouli Jagne: Evil Angel; Lechery; Duchess; Devil
How do you learn your lines?
• Freddie: I learn my lines in chunks. I also draw images to remind me of bits in speeches.
• Max: I learn my lines by pacing around the room, or whilst I balance different objects, like a broom, or bounce a ball. Doing two things at once really helps me learn my lines.
• Violet: I learn my lines whilst walking around the table!
• George: I usually learn my lines by recording my voice. If Violet and I messed up our lines, we could always improvise.
• Ouli: I was lucky that I had several small roles. In previous years, I’ve had loads of lines to learn. But I find that the lines come to me, they seep in during rehearsals, and I go through them before I go on. I will admit I do change the words sometimes, and yes, even Shakespeare’s!
How did you find the language of the play, and was it difficult performing such a complex piece?
• Freddie: The syntax was really hard, it was worse than Shakespeare, and there were bits of Latin. But I am always ready for a challenge. Dr Askew is brilliant as well. She’s done a PhD and that really helps, she really understands it and explains it very well.
• Max: Marlowe’s language is not as heightened as Shakespeare’s, and there’s no iambic pentameter. But there is a lot of Latin, Spanish and Greek in it.
• Violet: At first I was a bit overwhelmed, but you keep doing it more and more which helps, you learn it in performance. You remember that you’re being someone else. Also, Dr Askew helped by translating it for us. She was very good at bringing us together as a team
• Ouli: I thought all playwrights wrote like Shakespeare – I was wrong.
How did you handle the dark and complex themes of the play?
• Freddie: I wasn’t too concerned by them. My Nana was a bit concerned, she’s very religious, but I was fine.
• Max: We challenge a lot in drama. Back in the day, it was very hard-hitting for Catholics, but would have made Protestants laugh. Now it’s different, and the physical comedy makes people laugh.
• Chloe: To begin with, I really didn’t like ‘Dr Faustus’. I didn’t connect with it, and I didn’t think the audience would connect with it. But then I saw we were doing it in a way that people would understand.
• Ouli: I wondered how it would be received when you have kids in the audience from all years. But everyone seemed to enjoy it, and it seemed the kids got more from it than the adults, they found it more humorous.
How do you handle the audience’s laughter?
• Freddie: There was a lot of banter for the kissing scene. But I tried not to think about the laughter; I was Faustus, thinking about the beauty of Helen.
• Chloe: I bite the inside of my mouth. It’s really hard, it’s something you can’t really prepare for.
• Ouli: People were laughing when I went on stage as the pregnant Duchess. It was quite distracting, and I was twitching to stop myself laughing. Behind the scenes, people kept coming up and asking to touch my bump like I was a real pregnant woman, but it was just a couple of bean bags!
Have you always been into drama?
• Freddie: I did drama before Seaford. I played Bugsy Malone at primary school. I really enjoy doing plays.
• Violet: I love doing acting. I acted at primary school, and I was in a lot of plays. I am very pleased to be part of drama at Seaford, it is very inclusive. I study Theatre Studies at A Level too.
• George: I picked up drama whilst being at Seaford. Before, I was really introverted, and it helped to build my confidence. Someone dropped out of ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’ and Max said I should go for it. Acting is really fun, and can really help introverts. You can be whoever you want to be.
How has drama at Seaford helped you?
• Max: When I was younger, I was bullied for taking part in drama and dance. But now, I skip down the chickenwalk and I high-kick wherever I go. It is so accepting. You can really be yourself at Seaford. Mr Green wants it to be an all types of school, so you can really be accepted for who you are. I am very, very dyslexic and I struggle to write all of my thoughts down. My love of drama has fuelled my writing skills, and the fantastic Learning Support at Seaford has really taught me the importance of planning.
• Chloe: It really fuels my academic studies, for example it really compliments English. Acting at Seaford has totally changed who I am. Before, I was shy, and hunched over, I was completely different. I was encouraged to come out of my shell, and to develop as a person. At Seaford, you can find your own space.
• George: The drama department gives us a lot of freedom to develop our own ideas. At Seaford, you’re not restricted to just possibilities. If you want to create something, and be amazing, you can. Seaford helps you to push the boundaries, and gives you the freedom to do that.
What are you future aspirations?
• Freddie: I’m doing five A Levels at the moment (Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Physics and Chemistry) and I’d like to take a gap year.
• Max: I’ve done drama for many years, and I aspire to be an actor. I go to Guildford School of Acting on Saturday mornings, and audition for plays outside of school.
• Chloe: I’m going to university to do English Literature, and I hope to continue to do some drama as part of the course. I would also love to continue to perform in drama societies, and do some directing.
• George: Before acting at Seaford, I had never considered a career in comedy before. Now I’d like to develop my comedy side, and perhaps go to drama school.