Ambassadors Day: Regeneration

Ambassadors Day: Regeneration

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Theatre ambassadors arrived at Royal & Derngate from Wolverhampton Grand and Darlington Civic Theatre. The ambassadors spread the word about new shows and bring new people to their local theatres. Young Reporter Laura Jayne Bateman blogs on their backstage experience and reaction to seeing Regeneration for the first time.


The company manager at Northampton, Meryl Couper, began by giving the ambassadors a backstage tour. She explained how the props for the play- many of them incredibly detailed and specific- had been sourced: they included an original edition of Siegfried Sassoon’s 1917 poetry collection The Old Huntsman, and a statue from the Ancient World that had been painstakingly recreated by a sculptor. As the crew fitted up for the matinee performance, the ambassadors were able to explore the stage area and look out into the magnificent, 530-seat Royal auditorium.

The Head of Wardrobe, Vanessa Marshall, then spoke about how the many costumes for Regeneration had been assembled. Due to the number of First World War shows being produced this year to mark the centenary, Vanessa explained the difficulties that her department had faced in sourcing the necessary number of military uniforms with the correct insignia. In addition to renting from military costumier Khaki Devil, many of the costumes had been made or altered on site, such as Dr Rivers’ coat in the play’s final scene. Vanessa also gave a brief history of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the regiment of Sassoon and his friend Robert Graves, and had one of 

their jackets on hand to show the ambassadors their impressive level of detail, which is a testament to the creative team’s commitment to historical accuracy.

Two of the Wolverhampton ambassadors, Natalie, 15 and Imogen, 16, were also Theatre Cloud case studies. They will watch five of Theatre Cloud’s productions (of which Regeneration is the third, following Brassed Off and To Sir, With Love) and then write short articles about how the pieces have affected them. Before the performance began, Natalie and Imogen said that they were looking forward to “finding out the truth about the war”, but admitted that they probably would not have attended the production had they not been part of the case study scheme. What is encouraging is that they had not heard of the novel before the Theatre Cloud project, which suggests that by creating these educational opportunities for their audiences, Theatre Cloud is introducing new people not only to theatre, but also to Pat Barker’s wonderful work. After the performance, Natalie and Imogen commented that the show was “incredible”, and that they would definitely recommend it to their friends and family when it arrives in Wolverhampton. Several members of the cast were kind enough to meet with the ambassadors after the performance, and it was fascinating to hear them discuss the content of the play and the rehearsal process.

As the ambassadors left Northampton, it was clear that they are very much looking forward to welcoming this remarkable production to their own theatres.

 

 

Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.