“Imagine you are in ancient Greece, can’t you see it around you?” Writer-in-Residence, Professor D.J. (David) Britton introduces his latest production of ‘Oedipus/Antigone’ by asking the audience to use their imagination to envision the backdrop to the scenes they are about to watch. Professor Britton also lets the audience know that the students who are about to perform have only had about ten days to prepare when it would normally take about six to eight weeks. He left the audience not expecting much, but they ended up getting much more than they expected.

Image2There was a large audience excited to watch the students perform

Image1Professor Britton introduces his play 

Image3The play started with students marching and singing

The lights dimmed and the student actors began to march in from the two sets of doors near the front, wearing all black, except for coloured sashes to identify their loyalties in the play. Once the groups of students reach the back of the auditorium, they turn around and march the other direction while beginning to sing. The audience was surprised and impressed by how coordinated and beautifully the students were able to project their voices. When the chorus reached the front of the room, the scene continued with Oedipus making a speech. The projection and clarity of the students’ voices were impressive, and it was clear that the actors had put in many hours of hard work to achieve such success.

The students made good use of the space in the room, often marching up and down the aisles while executing dramatic monologues. One student, playing Oedipus in Part 2, even shocked the audience when suddenly the room went dark while the student turned on a single flashlight and pointed it to the ceiling. This allowed the perfect set-up for their dramatic and eerie monologue that the student then enacted perfectly. The chorus was an ever-present and key piece to the production as well, with students chanting and singing dramatically as exciting moments happened in the production.

Image4Students performed confidently

Image5Students enact a dramatic scene

Image6A student gives a monologue while holding a flashlight for dramatic effect

The play ended up with a long and loud round of applause, with the audience appearing to have thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Dean of DHSS, Prof Mei-hwa Sung, spoke after the performance, expressing how impressed she was at the amazing piece of work the students were able to perform. She thanked Professor Britton for his commitment to the students, and thanked the students for their efforts. Professor Britton spoke again afterwards, expressing as well how delighted he was to see the final performance come together so well. He told the students that “The moment you step through the doors, the play is yours”, and he was proud to have shared this time with them.

Image7Audience members enjoyed the performance

Image8Dean of DHSS, Prof Mei-hwa Sung, commends Professor Britton

Image9Professor Britton stands with student actors

The student actors all really enjoyed the experience as well. Second Year English Language and Literature Studies (ELLS) student, Li Zhiheng (Jimmy), played Creon in Part 1 of the play. He said from preparing to performing, he loved being part of the production. He enjoyed working with Professor Britton, saying that he had a certain “magic” to him, since he was able to teach the students how to project their voices and capture the audience’s attention without using any sort of microphone or instruments.

Another Second Year ELLS student, Wei Ziying (Victoria), who played Corinthians in Part 1, had acted before in Chinese dramas at UIC, but this had been her first big performance in English. She commented that being part of this performance helped improve her English because she learned a lot of new vocabulary words. She was impressed with Professor Britton’s constant dedication to the students, often staying up late with them for rehearsals, and offering flexible office hours for extra practice. Ziying explained how Professor Britton was always able to keep the students entertained during rehearsals, which made working with him very enjoyable.

Image10Wei Ziying (left) and Li Zhiheng (right) pose for a photo

Image11Dean of DHSS, Prof Mei-hwa Sung, congratulates students

Image12The student actors and professors involved in the performance pose for a photo

Beyond organizing this performance, Professor Britton kept quite busy during his visit to UIC which spanned from 18 September to 28 September. He gave a well-attended lecture on 25 September titled ‘Look, Listen, Think, Feel, Show, Tell’. He was also able to meet with many staff and students during his time, and has left a lasting impact on UIC’s theatre culture. He hopes that in the future the students will be able to rehearse and perform more English plays, and hopefully with a little more time to practice.

Reporter: Samantha Burns
Photographers: Ivy Liao, Samantha Burns
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He
(From MPRO)

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