Beautiful twisted fairy tales
Split Second Productions was set up by a group of students at Guildford School of Acting in 2014.
They took an original show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 and have just completed a run at Berkeley Castle of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a play apparently penned and performed for the wedding of Lord Thomas Berkeley and Elizabeth Carey 420 years ago.
“Someone else in the company is part of the Berkeley family,” Jay Parsons, an actor in Split Second Productions, says referring to producer Tom Berkeley. “It’s a very big family; I think ten people have to die before he gets the castle.”
In any case Tom was able to link Split Second with Berkely Castle, thus then enabling them to, as Jay states, “bring A Midsummer Night’s Dream back to its original home.”
How did it go at the castle? “It was amazing,” Jay reflects. “The reaction we got completely blew our minds. We sold out 80 per cent of our performances within a month or so. We had to add on extra tickets for all of the shows. The response we got from the community was amazing, and the reviews we got were great.
“We knew it was a good show, we were all proud of it; but we didn’t know it was going to get that kind of response.”
The production comes to Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film & Music on 16th October.
“We’ll have to go back into the rehearsal room and rework a lot of aspects,” Jay, playing Quince, says. “Because it was site-specific to the castle, a lot of aspects of the play were incorporated in because of where we were. So we’ll have to go back to the drawing board a little bit.”
Jay reckons he’s seen six different productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this year, describing it as a favourite of his along with The Winter's Tale, both “like twisted fairy tales in a way, and beautiful.” Elsewhere on the Bard spectrum, his partner had never seen a Shakespeare play until the Split Second show this year.
“He loved it,” Jay says. “He said that he’d go and see another one, the 400th anniversary celebrations are brilliant because they’re breaking people’s preconceptions.
“What every company is doing is getting Shakespeare out there, especially huge companies like the RSC and the BBC; making it part of mainstream TV and theatre is so important because it brings it to people who wouldn’t necessarily think Shakespeare is for them. In fact it is for everybody.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to Blenheim Palace Festival of Literature, Film & Music, 16th October, 10am at The Orangery.
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