Sunday, 7 July 2013

Interview: with Melissa Smith of ‘The Exonerated’

by Taylor Richardson

Melissa Smith, who plays a main role in the school’s production of The Exonerated, answers five questions surrounding one of PGS’ most anticipated productions. There have been several highlights among the dramatic performances at the school this year, including our very own Sixth Form’s take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and the extremely popular whole-school recital of The Producers. In addition to exploring The Exonerated, I look at what makes drama at PGS so enriching and successful.
What is The Exonerated and what are the key features in this piece?
“The play uses real life experiences and verbatim speech to tell the stories of the lives of six wrongly accused, exonerated people in America and their struggles on death row. Each individual’s narrative is largely separate from the others, but there are moments of connection between them.”
What is your favourite moment resulting from taking part in the production?
“My favourite part of the whole thing is probably the fact that almost every word that is said has been said by a real person. It gives so much meaning behind every line that it's impossible not to become caught up in the stories that unfold. I wanted to join because the death penalty is something I have always felt very strongly about, and the play gives an opportunity to demonstrate some of the worst consequences it can have. Also the fact that we get to perform it in great venues, from the atmospheric Round Tower in Old Portsmouth to a drama festival in Avignon, was a great selling point for me!”
Why do you personally believe it is worth watching?
“I think it's worth watching because it's not just a play about fictional lives; it's the story of the struggles of real-life people. The atmosphere is incredible and it's worth going just for that alone. You don’t want to miss it!”
What details do you think people need to know about this school production?
“It's being performed at the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth at 7:30 on Thursday 11th July. Running time is about an hour. Tickets cost £5 each and can be purchased from the Senior School Reception. Actors include Ben Schofield, Tom Harper, Ben Willcocks, James Gulliford, Ollie Velasco, Natasha Morgan, Aggie Newton, Charlie Albuery, Emma Read and me!”

How can other pupils get involved in drama productions at PGS? Why do you think they should?
“There are plenty of opportunities in school all year round to take part in drama, whether you study it or not. The school musical is a great way of getting into it and it is always fun to take part. It's worth looking outside of school as well; there are plenty of great youth theatres out there that can help enhance your skills whilst you have a great time doing so. Speaking to other pupils, teachers, tutors or the drama department about performance opportunities is a good way to put your foot in the door of dramatics at PGS.”

Make sure you get your tickets for the performance of ‘The Exonerated’ on the 11th July – they are selling fast! Melissa and the rest of the cast hope to see you there.

Read also Ben Schofield on the opening night  and Alex Quarrie-Jones' review of 'The Exonerated', as well as Ms Filho on The Avignon Festival.

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