University of Chichester performers create the strange world of Cosmoville
The strange world of Cosmoville – created on film by University of Chichester students – will be streamed by Bognor’s Regis Centre on Sunday, June 6.
Created by the students themselves, the piece was based on a basic idea and outline put forward by lecturers Paul Ackerley and Joel Scott.
“I wrote it with a colleague of mine,” Paul says. “What we do is that we create a piece of theatre. We set up a treatment. We describe the plot and scene. We have got a basic plot and then we create some scenes that we then set up so that we have got a beginning, an end and a middle, and then we give the characters dialogue so that it is all layered up, and then we offer it to the company.
“We are working with 15 student actors. We give them this treatment and the dialogue and we work on it together and turn it into a show. So in that sense it ends up being written by the whole company, with Joel and I having created the basis of it.
“The starting point for it all was Under Milk Wood, the idea of this isolated community. Under Milk Wood is 24 hours in the dream state of this village. We started with the idea of 24 hours in our isolated village, and we just wanted to make a grotesque comedy out of it.
“The show is one of a number that we have made over the last eight years, and at no point have we ever made a comedy. We made some pretty dark and sinister pieces, but we have never made a comedy. So we came up with these quite grotesque characters and came up with the idea that the village is populated by the descendants of the Greek gods. It is set in the 1960s, a tired and eccentric group of characters. It has got a bit of a League of Gentlemen feel to it.
“They have no divine powers at all, but they believe themselves to be the centre of the universe. They believe that they have to observe a number of rituals on one day of the year if the whole world isn’t to fall apart.
“So the piece is 24 hours in the life of this mad village where they recreate these bizarre rituals just – so they believe – so that the rest of the universe can survive intact. The first ritual is that they have to capture the first stranger that walks into the village and this person is then given general trials to do.
“There is a rather dark and sinister thread in the narrative. It is quite arch comedy but then it turns darker when it comes to night time.
“It’s a musical. All the characters have been given their own individual songs, and there are subplots. We are trying to give the characters a certain idea of depth.
“Cassandra knows that she is supposed to see into the future, but in fact she is just the village gossip and has got cctv set up so that she knows what other people are doing, but it is not divine power!”
Cosmoville was filmed at Bignor Park and will be offered as a 45-minute movie. The students are all in their final year and are being assessed on their performances.
So how did they do?
“They did brilliantly. They are training for the stage, and acting for film is a completely different technique. We are incredibly proud of them for what they have done and how they have used the camera as their audience.”
Delivered by the University of Chichester Triple Threat Commission Company, the film will be shown on Sunday, June 6 at 8pm. Stream tickets are £5.