Elizabeth: “drama, comedy, passion, war, and blood”
by Nick Cadle
Director Luca and choreographer Angela whipping
the cast of Elizabeth into shape
It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’ve come to see a cast of students prepare for the Lund University Student Theatre production of Elizabeth – a modern interpretation of the 1998 film – which premieres on April 19th.
“The play is in English so everyone can come and see it,” says Italian director Luca Lamorte. “This is a way we can build a bridge between the Swedish students and the international students.”
What is different about this ‘modern interpretation’? It lies in the nature of the performance. Alluring at first, attractive you might say, but could that make a period drama sexy?
As I walk into the rehearsal room, Elizabeth dances with her lover, Robert Dudley, courting each other. Their movements are slow and deliberate, punctuated by incendiary flourishes.
The temperature in the room rises.
They embrace. I look away, embarrassed. I feel like I am watching something I shouldn’t be.
This play is Shakespearian Drama fused with Hollywood Pizzazz: Elizabeth, meet Dirty Dancing. “It has drama, comedy, passion, war, and blood; there’s something for everyone,” Luca says of the play.
He shows me a map of the stage and points out how the play unfolds. “BANG, BANG, BANG.” Action explodes from the left of stage, from the right of stage, and sometimes directly from the audience (be prepared for a surprise if you sit in the front row).
Directing the troops during rehearsal.
He explains it to me like a general discussing war plans. Throughout he rehearsal, he directs the cast in the same way, scolding them when they disturb the other actors but also praising them when they nail a scene.
Then Angela takes over to choreograph the dance routines. Every leader needs an enforcer to crack the whip – Elizabeth had that scheming scoundrel Walsingham to beat down her enemies – and Luca has Angela, the Italian firecracker, to put some passione into the dances.
“She’s tough, but she has to be” says Luca as Angela tries to get the cast moving to Chris Brown’s ‘Forever.’
Their timing is way off.
“No no no no! Like this, da da DA da da DA.” She sets them straight, and after they whinge and stamp their feet they eventually find the rhythm. “We have not much time, but everyone has been so good,” she admits after the trauma. It’s nearing 5pm and today’s rehearsal is almost finished.
The actors have been working hard to find the rhythm.
It has been a long day: some people have been here since noon, but it was worth the effort. They ironed out the kinks in many scenes. Now all they had to do was memorise their dialogue.
“That was fantastic,” Luca says as he wraps up. “Now we have to try and try and try and try – 10 times – until it is perfect”, and he says perfect like purr-fect.
Luca is proud of the play, and with good reason: the hard work is creating something worth watching. Just as Elizabeth realised she was married to England, so too does the cast realise it is married to this production.
But with just weeks to go until the premiere, they must practice for hours every day to get it purr-fect. Prepare to be astonished.
When? 19th-24th April, 7pm. Where? AF building. How Much? 70 SEK at Student Info (AF building shop), 80 SEK at the door (110 SEK for non-AF members).