Meet our Dorian Gray director!

Behind the scenes of the rehearsal process so far

The cast and creative team is hard at work rehearsing for our next Youth Theatre production, Dorian Gray, so we caught up with the director, Rebecca Cook, to find out how everything is going.

Book tickets for Dorian Gray.

Why do you think Dorian Gray is still relevant to an audience today?

Dorian Gray remains highly relevant to modern audiences due to its timeless exploration of themes such as social acceptance, appearance, and corruption. These issues resonate deeply in today’s world, especially in the context of social media, celebrity culture, and societal pressures to conform. In our rehearsal process, we delved into these enduring themes from Wilde’s novel and reimagined them for the present day. Our cast devised scenes that drew directly from the original text, which we then adapted into a modern script. This adaptation includes digital elements, particularly in the depiction of Dorian’s deteriorating portrait. We’ve also woven in scenes inspired by real events from celebrity news over the past two decades – see if you can spot them!

How has the rehearsal process been so far?

The rehearsal process has been incredibly fun, with the seniors working incredibly hard. The entire play has been crafted by the youth theatre, incorporating their own ideas, words and movements.

We’ve been fortunate to work with professional companies Open Sky and Highly Sprung Theatre Company, which have helped develop the cast’s skills in Digital Theatre and Physical Theatre. This collaboration has inspired them to explore different methods of storytelling, through film, movement and voice. Additionally, we’ve included moments of stage combat, guided by Youth Theatre alumni Lydia Fitzwilliams, further enhancing their performance skills. It’s been wonderful to watch the group take a classic text and make it their own!

Why should people book to watch this production?

This production of Dorian Gray promises to be a captivating and innovative experience, showcasing the incredible talent and creativity of our young people. By blending classic themes with modern elements such as digital theatre and physical theatre, our adaptation offers a fresh and relevant take on Wilde’s timeless story.

As well as showcasing our Youth Theatre, this production highlights the talents of Rural Media’s Young Producers, who have created stunning photography and film for the show. The performance also features a musical score written and produced by the gifted students at Hereford College of Arts. Watching this production is a unique opportunity to see young performers infuse their own ideas and energy into a classic text, creating a show that is both thought-provoking and entertaining. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable talents of our young people across the community. Don’t miss out!

Who are your directing inspirations and why?

We are incredibly fortunate to have such a vibrant theatre scene in the UK, brimming with inspirations! I am particularly drawn to directors and companies that tell their stories through a variety of mediums and connect them to the modern world.

Theatre directors Emma Rice and Katy Rudd both have distinctive styles that are visually striking and boldly enhance their storytelling. They use space imaginatively, constantly experimenting with different elements such as film, puppetry, music, and movement.

Theatre companies Highly Sprung and Complicite inspire me with their use of ensemble work, which I find particularly important for Youth Theatre. Our cast operates as a cohesive team, and it is crucial that each member has their moment to shine while also being able to work together seamlessly.

Theatre company Punchdrunk leads the way in innovative uses of space and the audience’s relationship to it, making the audience feel as though they are part of the moment. I always strive for our audience to feel a part of the production rather than distanced from it.

What has been the most exciting part of the rehearsal process?

The most exciting part of the process has been the uncertainty of what the final production would look like. Whilst that can be quite scary, it had been exciting to not know the outcome, as the entire performance was devised by the group. There’s been certain magic in this approach, allowing ample space for experimentation, innovation, and refinement.

About the show

The Courtyard Senior Youth Theatre presents Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray with a modern twist, seamlessly blending live performance and multimedia elements. Experience Dorian’s timeless journey through eternal youth, set against the backdrop of the selfie era.

The talented cast has collaborated with Rural Media students to enhance their skills in performance, photography, and filmmaking. With music composed by Hereford College of Arts students, this performance showcases Herefordshire’s talented youth at their very best.

Dorian Gray is on from Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 July. Book tickets for Dorian Gray.