HDA Students Take the Stage in Edinburgh
From July 31 to August 11, a group of sixteen students from the Hopkins Drama Association (HDA) traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Guided by drama faculty Mike Calderone and Hope Hartup, the crew performed Shakespeare on a Shoestring: The Comedy of Errors! at the Fringe Festival.
The Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, ran from August 2 to 26 this year. Drawing in thousands of performers and audience members, the festival makes use of hundreds of stages, finding a way to accommodate any group that wishes to perform. This marks the third iteration of HDA’s trip to the Fringe, the first being in the summer of 2017. The group flew to Edinburgh after a successful kickoff show at Hopkins.
Calderone explained the decision to perform a Shoestring show at the festival: “ A good bunch of the HDA students on this trip were in the original Shakespeare on a Shoestring: Comedy of Errors! when we developed it in my Ensemble Class back when they were in ninth grade. It was fun reviving some of their roles and recasting others with new actors. Bringing a Shoestring show to the festival is almost a no-brainer in that there's no scenery to transport, construct and take down before and after each performance.”
With six shows spread out over the course of the twelve-day trip, the cast had the opportunity to sightsee, perform, and view other shows. Ellie Doolittle ’20 said, “My favorite thing outside of performing was definitely the haunted tour. Our
group heard creepy historical stories walking around Edinburgh and even went in a graveyard to see a king's haunted grave.” She continued, “Another highlight was the hike up to Arthur’s seat, an incredibly steep climb, but an overall rewarding experience once we reached the top and saw the incredible views.”
The group performed at 10 a.m. each performance day, promoting the show by handing out flyers on the street. Graley Turner ’20 commented on the experience of “flyering”: “We had to do all our own advertising, from handing out flyers on the Royal Mile to striking up conversations with other performers and festival-goers. We mastered flyering and subtly advertising our show.” Margaret Toft ’21 remarked, “ Having an audience of people you don’t know, and getting to share something you have worked hard on felt really special.” Leah Miller ’20 commented on the actual experience of performing the show: “By the time we arrived and were performing on an international stage the show felt pretty second nature and we were able to really enjoy the experience of being semi-professional actors.”
In addition to performing, students also had the opportunity to watch other performances. Seeing two to four performances a day, students were able to take advantage of the wide range of theatrical genres and experiences the Fringe Festival has to offer with over 3,000 shows. Drew Slager ’21 reflected on this experience: “It was an amazing opportunity to see these smaller shows that you would otherwise never hear about. We also had the opportunity to find shows ourselves and rally others to come with us, so while we saw most shows together as one big group, we did have the occasional performance that only a few of us experienced.” Some shows, however, were not as spectacular. Slager went on to say that the group “did also see some pretty bad shows, one being an all-female improv musical group whose topic was Hobbes and Shaw. It was not our favorite.”
However, the cast agreed upon two favorites: Police Cops: Police Cops in Space and Police Cops: Badass Be Thy Name. Elizabeth Roy ’20 explained, “Police Cops is a group at the Fringe Festival who perform two very ridiculous, but very funny shows. Most of the group had seen their first one already, so we all wanted to see the second one together. Before the show began, we crowded into the first few rows of the audience and danced in our seats. We enjoyed the
show and expressed that enjoyment so much that the actors gave us a shout out at the end of the performance.
While in Edinburgh, the cast, along with Calderone and Hartup, stayed in local college dorms and shared a kitchen. Slager reflected on this experience of a shared living space: “On the trip we really bonded together considering we all shared a kitchen. Living, eating and breathing together was definitely an experience and a struggle, but it was interesting. Lots of food stealing and shenanigans.”
Other adventures contributed to this spirit of camaraderie. Turner said, “From the get-go we were put through situations that made us bond as a cast. We had evening rehearsals, a delayed flight, and the process of getting a show ready to perform, but we really united and worked through these triumphs and challenges together.”
As the Fringe Festival draws thousands of audience members from across the globe and Lovell only seats a few hundred, performances at the festival were a different experience than those at Hopkins. Griffin Congdon ’20 commented, “Performing at the Fringe is exciting because you never know who is going to be in the audience. At Hopkins it’s usually friends and family, but in a totally foreign country we were performing for complete strangers, which was a cool experience.”
Being part of an arts festival at the caliber of the Fringe was an exciting opportunity for HDA. Roy commented on the staying power of the experience: “I know that as I continue to perform, I will keep different elements of the shows I saw in Edinburgh with me.” Doolittle also remarked, “Scotland during the Fringe is truly magical, it’s a hub for creative theater, memorable performances, and immense talent.”
promoting the show by handing out flyers on the street. GraleyTurner ’20 commented on the experience of “flyering”: “We hadto do all our own advertising, from handing out flyers on theRoyal Mile to striking up conversations with other performersand festival-goers. We mastered flyering and subtly advertisingour show.” Margaret Toft ’21 remarked, “ Having an audienceof people you don’t know, and getting to share something you
have worked hard on felt really special.” Leah Miller ’20 com-mented on the actual experience of performing the show: “By
the time we arrived and were performing on an internationalstage the show felt pretty second nature and we were able toreally enjoy the experience of being semi-professional actors.”