The Drama Soc Success: Joanna and Her Midterm City's Dream

If you haven't been living under a rock for the past months, you should have heard about the newly founded Drama Soc and their first production, the evergreen 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Their much-awaited shows have been an incredible success that shook City's walls a little. 

To find out the secret behind such results, we interviewed Joanna Trainor, one of the directors of the play and Drama Soc president for 2014/2015.

So Joanna, it was clear to everyone that the performance was a great success. From your point of view, what kind of response did the play get on opening night? It was a wonderful opening night. Everyone had worked so hard, and to get such a big audience that responded so positively was just the icing on the cake for us. Rachel, one of the lovely directors, and I were sat in the audience, and just jumped out of our seats to go and congratulate everyone backstage at curtain down. It was such a great atmosphere. We got more laughs on Tuesday night, and an even bigger audience on Friday. They definitely deserved it, I felt like a proud mum!

Why choose Shakespeare and this particular play? Our President David Hutchison suggested the idea of performing a Shakespeare. Getting the rights to a play can be very expensive, and as we are a new society we wanted to be as cost effective as possible. We also wanted to produce a show that people know of, and wanted to come and see. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was definitely the right choice: we all knew it really well and it lent itself to however big or small a cast and set we wanted. James, who also played the character of Bottom, came up with the brilliant idea of everyone wearing pyjamas and from that everything just fit into place!

Can you tell me a little bit about the conception of the Drama Society? David came up with the idea that City needed a drama society just over a year ago, and from then has just worked tirelessly to make it what it is today. When I got the email saying I was going to be President next year, David texted me saying “Very proud of you, now don’t screw it up, yeah?”, which is possibly the best way I’ve ever been congratulated. After all the effort that he’s put in, I am determined not to let him and the soc down.

Why do you think that city University needed a drama society? Every university needs a Drama Society, especially in London, where we’re lucky enough to have the best theatre on our doorstep! Everyone should have the opportunity to do what they love, and spend time with like-minded people. Within just three months our society had one of the highest memberships at the university, so clearly there are lots of stagey people in our midst! One of the complaints I’ve heard from students at City is that it lacks a community feel. Well, theatre is a community; building a cast, a crew, an audience definitely brings people together and that can only be a good thing for the uni.

What would you say to those who may want to join but don’t know if they can handle the extra work on top of studying? JOIN! I would always be in rehearsals for a local show during exam periods at school and college, if anything it taught me how to manage my time more efficiently. I knew that after I endured the horrors of revision or writing coursework, I got to perform and spend time with some equally theatrical people, and that was motivation enough. Honestly otherwise I know I’d have just been working on my title of Queen of Procrastination. So really, joining Drama Soc can only help your studies!

What are your top five works that you would like to have the society put on? Aaahh, only five? Let me see!

  1. 'Hamlet', which is my favourite Shakespeare. It’s just perfect theatre, I would have to work on getting around health and safety issues for the sword fights and poisoned fencing though!
  2. 'Boys' by Ella Hickson. It’s set at the University of Glasgow in the last week of term and although it’s not a plotline with a big adventure, it’s incredibly emotional and cathartic.
  3. 'Miss Julie', that the incredible Rep company Faction Theatre performed at the New Diorama. It’s the story of a daughter from a wealthy home and one of their servants.
  4. 'Much Ado About Nothing', the perfect summer Shakespeare show! The characters and the scenes are so much fun to play with. It also has a rise and fall emotionally.
  5. Jim Cartwright is one of my favourite playwrights. 'Two, Bed, Road, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice', he can do no wrong in my eyes. The only issue is that if you’ve done drama at school or college, you’ve definitely studied a Jim Cartwright play, and I don’t want people to feel like they’re back doing A Levels again!

Would the society be open to writing and creating an original story? Definitely! I love love love new writing! The Bush Theatre, First Draft, IdeasTap; London is full of new writing schemes so we shouldn’t be any different. Something I’d be very interested in doing is Scratch nights, or rehearsed readings, so if anyone does have some new writing that they want to test out they could get a little cast together and get some feedback from the audience. 

To find out more about it read our interview with Giorgia, who played the role of Hermia.