Looking back at 2020 with the ESM Players

It’s been quite a roller coaster ride. In March, during dress rehearsal, COVID-19 stopped Romeo & Juliet in its final stages, moved it onto a digital stage but yet we had great hopes to go up in summer, in 3D. We didn’t. We stay digital.

Then came autumn. We started a new project — Much Ado About Nothing. And what can we say, despite it all, we’re still in rehearsal. Still working on it. Admittedly, we were moved back to the digital stage, but we hope this is only momentarily so. Because this production is different from all others that ESM Players have done before. This production will be a cinematic experience.

So, what have we been up to in the last months?

We did many close reading, trying to get actors into character — all safely distanced, all with VERY basic blocking: “Now, imagine that Benedick were to your left, Beatrice, and on line 25, you blow him a kiss.” And all this, with masks. Communication signals are sent via eyes, mostly. Be careful, enunciate but don’t project too much — this would help aerosols to spread. Who would have thought that directors were ever going to request less projection of their actors? Oh, corona.

But, there are some positive moments, too.

Jamming during rehearsal
Long distance blocking
Pretending that we can still put on a staged production…
Pretending, in costume
Here we go, digital it is again

And yet, we’re still hoping that after the lockdown we’ll be able to start filming for this wonderful project.

But now let’s hear it from the team.

Look at those fabulous costume drafts!

This is one of Lise’s works. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for more updates in the next months — Messina High School is awaiting prom night!

ESM Players — Safety first.

Romeo & Juliet is a fight-laden play. There are three scenes in which fights take place, one scene that features a fake death and, we thought, why not add another one? So we will initiate the production with an unusual scene that is not originally part of R&J (albeit it, it is originally by Shakespeare, we promise!).

Our actors have a lot of fun with their theatre daggers, but before they may use them to rehearse the fight choreographies, they rehearse with rather unusual items. Anna-Maria, AD, is very keen on having the actors be comfortable with their movements and blocking before she hands out the theatre daggers. She explains that first she has the actors dry rehearse in slow motion, to emphasise and set blocking. Then they get their ‘replacement daggers’ — and since everyone shows up with their school utensils, what better to use than good-old highlighter pens. Only when neon-green and neon-pink have made it safely into the choreography, will Anna-Maria hand out the real props. And this we do every single rehearsal. We’re not there yet, but with the coming months ahead of us, by March it will look quite like the real thing.

Here’s a sneak peek of Tybalt (Lise) and Mercutio (Malou) — in slow-motion. The bags around the two actors, you ask? Well, you need to get the actors used to the proper stage dimensions of Galli Theater.

Video: Anna-Maria

Reminds you of something? Monty Python and The Holy Grail?

ARTHUR: Look!

BLACK KNIGHT: Just a flesh wound.

ESM PLAYERS — WEEK 2: Play and casting announcement

This week caused a bit of a stir among the ESM Players!

To Shakespeare, or…?

In the last years, team ESM Players has brought two of Shakespeare’s major tragedies from the page to the stage (Richard III and Macbeth), exploring how kings and queens strive and how they fail, how private decisions thwart the course of politics, how fleeting a moment can be and how desperate we often cling to exactly those fleeting moments. They also explored enchanted woods, fairies and elaborated on Bottom’s dream, and last year they took the complete works to stage (well, sort of, anyway). It was thus about time for teenagers to claim Shakespeare, his language and a story that is about them. No kings, no queens — but teenagers: young, untamed, ready to make their world a little better. Can you guess, which play it is?

The play’s the thing: why theatre matters.

Theatre is about all of us. And so is this play. Hailed to be the iconic play about true love, Romeo & Juliet is a play about our emotions: falling in love, falling out of love, quarrelling, rebelling against parents or authority, challenging or being challenged by peers, eating your greens… Ok, perhaps not quite about the last one, but how much more can a student theatre group ask for?

But it’s old-fashioned, boring!

I hear you. But that means you probably haven’t read closely enough and not had a chance to taste Shakespeare’s words. Taste again. Look again, allow the language to guide you, let us on your imaginary forces work. And work we will, we have set the play into a modern context, thus translating it into a feud that is very close to us and will make it all the more plausible, why Juliet’s and Romeo’s fates are indeed star-crossed. Which context exactly we have chosen, psssss! This remains a secret for a while, but we’re sure, you’ll have a ball with it once you see it. (Uh oh, hidden clue.)

The Casting: lead actors

Meet Laura: Juliet Capulet

Laura has been with the ESM Players for several years and starred in many different roles. This year, she’ll take on the play’s tragic heroine — she can’t wait to give Romeo a pep talk from that balcony!

Meet Anna-Lena: Romeo Montague

This is Anna-Lena’s first year with the ESM Players. She has vast stage experience from other theatre companies and is ready to don some pants this year.

Meet the rest of the cast in the following weeks. We can’t wait to present Romeo & Juliet to you. This play is for you.

Hier bin ich Mensch, hier darf ich’s sein!