Seanchai Players, a drama group composed of students taking the Master of Arts in Drama and Theatre Education at the University of Warwick2005/2006, participated in 'Les Comediantes' drama festival organised by students from INSA, Rouen from 8th - 13th May, 2006. A total of 5 groups from Britain, France, Germany and Greece participated in the Festival.
Seanchai Players were thrilled by the performance venue arranged by the Festival Organisers -- a beautiful old de-frocked church with vaulted ceilings. Talk about the intertwining of ritual, entertainment and performance! It was exactly the sort of venue in which you feel obliged to give a rendition of 'To be or not to be', so several of us did! The performance -- a mixture of some of the traditional tales we had performed for the 'Role of Story' module in December was received very enthusiastically. We were very happy to have the opportunity to present a drama workshop at Galilee High School outside Rouen, an activity which was of benefit to the students who participated and something which we could not otherwise have organised ourselves. It was pleasing to see that the techniques we learned on our course worked well with students who did not speak English as their first language.
There was a great deal of sightseeing to be done in Rouen and we whiled away the days eating and drinking in cafes, visiting the Cathedral and the Jean d'Arc museum as well as contributing to the French GNP (shopping). The organisers worked extremely hard to make all the drama groups feel welcome and comfortable. It was evident that a great deal of planning and preparation had gone into the Festival. The organisers provided information packs containing a wide range of tourist and travel information which helped us 'rosbifs' travel around the city easily. In addition to this, the organisers were happy to act as translators for the non-French speaking members of the group, which made the trip very smooth for us. The accommodation was both clean and comfortable and the food delicious and plentiful!
We were pleased to be able to meet so many other students with a love of theatre from other European countries. The Festival had a tremendously positive impact in bringing together so many students. In addition to watching the performances by the other groups, we were able to discuss cultural differences in our way of working and establish informal links between our home universities which we hope will be maintained in future. The Festival was an excellent way of fostering cross-cultural exchange. We do hope that students from INSA in Rouen continue to host this type of event, which gives pleasure to so many and leaves the participants with wonderful memories.
In conclusion, Seanchai Players were sad to leave their newly-found French, German and Greek friends, but I am sure that we will keep in contact with them. I hope that students from the University of Warwick will again be invited to participate in future festivals organised by the students of INSA Rouen. The Festival is held every two years, so the 2007-2008 cohort of students should keep their ears open for information and seize the opportunity to participate!
Tanya Kempston (Director, Seanchai Players)