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 welcome their audience to Messina High School!

ESM PLAYERS 2020/21 — the team

We’re back! This year’s team ESM Players is the biggest ever, we have grown to 24 participants! And we’re very excited to bring our version of Much Ado About Nothing to you next year, High School Messina.

The story: Hero prepares for her entry as prom queen for Homecoming. Donna Jane and Don Pedro return from a tournament in which Don Pedro’s team has successfully beaten Donna Jane’s team. Shortly before Homecoming, Claudio falls in love with Hero and vows to stop down from his team’s duties in order to spend time with Hero. Benedick, Claudio’s best friend, is not amused.

And it wouldn’t be high school if the seniors didn’t play some pranks on the juniors. And so, Don Pedro and Leonato, Hero’s brother, decide to bring Beatrice and Benedick together. Will it work?

Meanwhile School Security Chief Dogberry and his team try to maintain order at school, assuring Headmistress Sexton that there won’t be any incidents or disturbances during Homecoming.

Sister Francisca and her Well-Being team likewise take care of students’ daily woes, and thus often get to know school gossip firsthand.

Prom night is about to happen, the girls don their fancy dresses and the boys their tuxedos — but Donna Jane and her friends of mischief, Borachio and Conrade, have other plans…

New Normal in Masks

Stay tuned for updates on our journey!

ESM Players & a (colourfully) jolly start into 2020!

What’s new with the ESM Players?

2020 started with lots of colour! In October we announced that we’d channel the two “households both alike in dignity” into two teams: Team Red and Team Blue. And so it has begun: Team Red, the House of Montague; Team Blue, the House of Capulet; and those not clearly aligned with one of the house, constitute Team Black. As we decided to set the play’s background into modern times, we were looking for these three colours that could be visibly worn by all actors. Last week our costumes team handed out some essential items for all actors — highlighting the colour theme of and, of course, adding some bling! So here is the cast, donning their red, blue and black bandanas.

And because bandanas go really well with a bit of bling bling, we weren’t hesitant in adding some jewellery. Here’s a first glimpse of County Paris, sporting his fashionable look. Clearly, all this bling bling convinced Old Capulet that Paris is just the right husband for Juliet.

Since Verona is ruled by a Prince whose loyalties are torn between the two families, we wanted to combine this twist into his costume thus showing off both Team Blue and Team Red.

To add some more sparkle, the mask ball that seals the fates for Romeo and Juliet will also feature some shiny items.

Our tech and props team was working very hard on some cool belt buckles, have a look — isn’t is amazing what one can do with 3D printers?

And what would be more bling than an opulent belt buckle with your initial on it? Correct. This is where our tech experts when to work and designed some Capulet and Montague belt buckles for the actors.

Juliet and Lady Capulet surely fell in love with their bandanas. We think that they look gorgeous in it.

Finally, Benvolio and Mercutio throw in their summary of the play — it fiteth well, we think. Although they seem to have a wee bit too much fun with it… someone needs to remind them that R&J is a tragedy… 😉

Stay tuned for the next update when we introduce our creative team and their plans for the poster design.

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!