[T]o devise a theatre production in a matter of weeks is impressive. To create the set, source the props, design and make costumes, plan lighting, arrange the sound as well publicise and market it sounds impossible. Especially as the show will be staged under canvas in the middle of Carlisle city centre next week.
However that is what performing arts students from the University of Cumbria have achieved as part of the forthcoming Carlisle Fringe.
Produced by Chloe Sturrock The Last Leaf is described as an intimate retelling of the story of an artist who struggles to overcome pneumonia.
In a bid to make the production as inclusive as possible British Sign Language has been included within the production.
“The show is based on a story by William Sydney Porter who was known by his pen-name, O. Henry, and aims to explore the meaning of hope and the importance of art as a form of language,” Chloe said. “With the use of British Sign Language, The Last Leaf aims to bring together the deaf community and hearing world through a mutual love of magic, storytelling and theatrical adventure.”
The project beat off stiff competition from 80 applicants to be commissioned by the Creative Sparks funding project as part of Carlisle Fringe with Electric Theatre Workshop. The university’s own bright futures fund also provided financial support to the project.
“The show aims to be thought-provoking – we want people to go away having seen something that makes them think,” Harri Elizabeth, who will be making her directing debut, said, “We’ve enjoyed the challenge of bringing the show together and putting into practice what we learned at university. We’re all eager to bring something different to this industry and hope that through merging the language of the hearing and non-hearing communities we will be able to make theatre more accessible to all.”
Harri and Chloe will both graduate in November and have already gained experience of staging a show that aims to entertain a wide audience; an earlier production at the Stanwix Theatre received strong acclaim.
At the start of their careers in the competitive world of the performing arts the pair already look set to make their mark.
The Last Leaf will run for only two performances. For more information and to book tickets, visit https://bit.ly/2LFIZvS