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Warwick's Dramatic Success at National Festival

Warwick University Drama Society (WUDS) and Warwick drama company Curious Directive swept the boards at the recent National Student Drama Festival in Scarborough, for their productions of Elephant’s Graveyard and Return to the Silence.

The two productions won a total of 10 awards/commendations from the judges:

Elephant's Graveyard (Warwick University Drama Society)

  • Caitlin McLeod - Buzz Goodbody Student Director Award
  • Elephant's Graveyard Cast - Judge's Ensemble Award
  • Elliot Griggs - Showlight Award for Lighting Designer
  • Cara Verkerk - Award for Best Set Design
  • Tanya Wells & Ben Osborn - Commendation for Music

Return to the Silence (Curious Directive, supported by Lord Rootes fund and WGA)

  • Adam Alston - Cameron Mackintosh Award for Music
  • The Ensemble - Creative Landscape Award
  • Rhys Thomas - Best Lighting Design
  • Ant Lynch and Rob Morton - Best Sound Design
Ben Canning also took the Arden Entertainment Show Award in support of his work so far on Boy in Darkness which is to be performed at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Sunday Times review of the National Student Drama Festival described Elephant’s Graveyard as:

…the most striking production in the festival, Warwick University’s European premiere of George Brant’s Elephant’s Graveyard, which earned Caitlin McLeod the Buzz Goodbody Student Director award. The real-life story of how a small town in Tennessee hanged a circus elephant that had run amok may not sound promising. However, the generosity with which the 15- strong cast created communities out of circus folk and townspeople, and shared the horror at what was done, suggests that, while showing us the dark side of life, theatre can teach us how to live it better. It is a lesson hard to find on a university course, or the national curriculum, but this festival offers it every year.

And reviewed Return to the Silence:

At least the victims in Return to the Silence, Warwick University’s devised dance-documentary, are not responsible for their brain damage. Led by its director, Jack Lowe, the company sets out to explore the various ways in which the brain can suddenly malfunction. Inspired by the writings of Oliver Sacks, and starting with the experience of the neurologist Jill Bolte Taylor, who describes her own haemorrhage, the company uses dance, speech and live and recorded video to create an imaginative and emotional landscape to draw down pity on what might have been dry case studies. Seated in wheeled trucks reminiscent of hospital beds, the audience has its perspective constantly shifted as they are pushed and spun about.

The company won an award for this creative landscape; the pianist Adam Alston won the Cameron Mackintosh award for a musical score that helps to hold this episodic but powerful piece together.

Read the full Sunday Times feature

Read more on the production of the Elephant’s Graveyard production which took place in the Arts Centre Studio in January.

Elephant
Photo courtesy of Peter Marsh, Ashmore Visuals

Warwick University Drama Society