Durham School & Shadow Dreams took a production of “Cepacia” to the Edinburgh fringe in August 2018. A wonderful opportunity for all involved to take part in the world’s greatest arts festival.
The play, Cepacia, was written by Stephen and developed with Amy Brownlee the Head of Drama at Durham School and a wonderful cast of creative students.
Stephen’s thoughts on this their first production:
A few years ago I decide to write a play and for some reason what emerged was a modern version of Romeo and Juliet where both protagonists had cystic fibrosis. Towards the end of the 2017 academic year the senior drama students at Durham School workshopped scenes from the play and it seem to go so well that Amy and I decide to have a go at a full scale fringe production.
There was a massive amount of work involved in developing the show, integrating physical theatre and dance into my dialogue heavy script. This was a collaborative piece of work with Mrs Brownlee and the cast who were current or recent graduates from Durham School.
The rehearsal schedule alone was miraculous given that the cast resided in Cambridge, London, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Durham.
In the story Cystic Fibrosis, utterly dominates the young people affected, it shortens their lives, there are extensive, intrusive, daily rituals of Physiotherapy and treatment and serious risk of cross infection. The risk of cross infection isolates them from others with the same condition.
Our challenge was how to convey these factors and others in an enthralling piece of theatre. Our target was the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which is the biggest arts festival in the world. The commitment and hard work was extraordinary and the final show was gradually distilled.
Our set and tech was ambitious. It involved complex choreography in use with props and costume to convey different characters but our biggest problem was time. The original script was probably 90 minutes in length, and as we got closer to our run it was clear we were still substantially over time. So some very hard cuts to the show had to be make.
For our preview we converted the Luce theatre at Durham School into a facsimile of the Edinburgh space and invited an audience to view our show for the first time ever. They included families with CF and indeed Jodie Symington who has Cystic Fibrosis kindly shared her experience, her life with CF with the Cast and Crew.
Thankfully the preview audience loved the show, were enthralled by the story but also felt we were doing justice to the reality of CF.
Edinburgh itself was extraordinary, the logistics of shifting the set, of converting and adapting lights sound and video, sorting accommodation. There were mistakes and massive challenges but the show went on 6 nights in a row, started on time and out on time. The audiences were again highly appreciative, their social media reviews were glowing as were the professional reviewers.
It was an exhausting week, flyering for hours every day then delivering a high quality performance every night, getting out, sorting the set, the props and ourselves, trying to recover only to do it all again the next day.
We’re massively proud of the hard work and talent shown by the whole team and particularly proud that the families of those with Cystic Fibrosis have loved what we have done.
Jen, in a foster home with abusive past, Alex, in a boarding school, both have Cystic Fibrosis. Jen’s a bit skinny but reasonably well, Alex is desperate for a lung transplant after years of destructive lung infections. They meet in a CF chat room and Alex learns it’s nearly Jen’s birthday which nobody is going to celebrate, unless…