Esther (Feb-March 2013, St John's College Chapel)
Jean Racine's Esther, a three-act tragedy based on the Book of Esther, was first performed by an all-female cast in 1689. Centuries later, our female production revisits Racine's play in a brand new verse translation accompanied by original choral music in the magnificent setting of St John's College Chapel.
CAST (in order of appearance)
Esther - Lydie Sheehan
Elise - Fay Lomas
Mordecai - Rhiannon Kelly
Haman - Clara-Laeïla Laudette
Hydaspes - Pollyanna Marsden
King Ahasuerus - Lucy Rayfield
Asaph - Miriam Stoney
Zares - Natalya Din-Kariuki
Chorus of Israelites
Sopranos: Katie Barron, Mary Magorrian, Nora Rouast, Lucy Taylor
Altos: Nia Madden, Sarah Peyton Jones, Jennifer Rushworth
Produced by Jennifer Rushworth
Directed by Julia Caterina Hartley, assisted by Benjamin Schaper
Translation by David Maskell
Music by Matthew Salisbury
Musical Direction - Matthew Salisbury
Stage Manager - Kirsten Macfarlane
Poster Design - Alan Rimmer
With readings by
Oskar Cox Jensen
Proust for Beginners (29th of May 2013, Blackwell's Bookshop)
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Swann’s Way
Always wondered what was so great about the famous Marcel Proust, but felt too shy to approach his mammoth of a novel?
This FREE event is the perfect solution for you: come and listen to some of Oxford's best young performers bring to life Marcel Proust's ever observant and over-sensitive Narrator, his barmy old aunts, the enigmatic Charles Swann, Charles Swann's alluring and infuriating mistress Odette and others!
'Proust for Beginners' is a dramatic reading of selected passages from 'Swann's Way', the opening volume of Marcel Proust's novel 'In search of lost time' which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, introduced by Professor Adam Watt.
For those of you already acquainted with Proust's work, this is simply an occasion to hear something more exciting than your standard audiobook.
Organised by Jennifer Rushworth and Julia Hartley.
This was a very paired down and text centred performance, and yet one of our best attended ones: who knew Blackwell's café could fit 70 people, all there for Proust? We think Marcel would have been chuffed if he had seen their concentrated faces and heard their delighted applause.
The Mountain Giants (October-November 2012)
Luigi Pirandello (author of ‘Six characters in search of an author’) had one last play in store for the world, one like nothing he had attempted before, and one he died writing.
‘The Mountain Giants’, perched somewhere between fairy-tale and bitter realism, is a story about the place of theatre, and by extension art and the human imagination, in an increasingly money-driven world. Characters, music, lighting, set, costumes, all was put to use in his “feast for the mind and the eyes”.
75 years after its first performance, students collaborate with Oxford University’s Italian Sub-faculty to bring you a play like no other: Pirandello’s testament to theatre in a brand new translation with a completed ending.
Watch the complete last performance here
Pirandello's swan song is a great undertaking for any theatre company and we managed to make it work with a tight budget. 'The Mountain Giants' was performed in the Keble O'Reilly Theatre, featuring the biggest set and most ambitious sound, lighting and costume effects we have ever used. Pirandello's mad-cap stage directions, whether they called for an angel to appear or giant puppets to come to life, were followed through. Hartley furnished the script with an ending which faithful to Pirandello's trademark meta-theatre played with the spectator/performer divide by having the final action take place before a closed red curtain behind which a fictive audience heckled the Countess' company. The play was reviewed by Pirandello Studies, the Pirandello Society's journal, and Catherine Haines's performance and Julia Hartley's translation and directing were noted by a selector from the National Student Drama Festival.
Producer - Julia Hartley
Translator and Director - Julia Hartley
Costume Design - Naomi Hendy
Light Design - Eli Keren
Technical Consultant - Pilly
Music and Sound - Nathan Klein
Poster Artwork - Andy Hartley
Blog - Victoria Weavil
The Countess’ company
Ilse, still known as the Countess - Catherine Haines
The Count - Moritz Borrmann
Diamante - Charlotte Norton
Cromo - Matija Vlatkovic
Spizzi - Nick Burns
Battaglia - Olivia Madin
Sacerdote - Sam Elwin
Cotrone, known as the magician - Sam Young
Quaquèo - Ben Currie
Duccio Doccia - Sarah Jones
Sgricia - Rhiannon Kelly
Milordino - Ruth Munglani
Mara-Mara - Carolin Kreuzer
Magdalen - Sonia Jacobson
Alceste & Juliet (summer 2012)
Dans la langue de Molière
Imaginez qu’Alceste, le misanthrope de Molière, tombe amoureux de la jeune Juliette shakespearienne... Et qu’arriverait-il si Philinte s’en mêlait ? Et si l’excentrique nourrice de Juliette lui donnait un coup de pouce? Alceste pourrait-il vaincre sa misanthropie ? Ou bien son rival, un certain Roméo, prendrait-il le dessus ? Le résultat est une love story déjantée qui rebondit sans cesse entre l’univers de Shakespeare et celui de Molière à un rythme effréné.
In the language of Shakespeare
What would happen if Alceste, Molière’s misanthrope, fell in love with Juliet, Shakespeare’s young lover? ‘Alceste & Juliet’ is a tongue-in-cheek comedy that brings French and British theatre into collision with the most unlikely of love affairs.
"C'est toujours drôle et vivant, c'est inventif et surprenant, c'est anglais et français!"
Billetsreduc sur 'Alceste & Juliet' à Paris
The play was a celebration of the comic genius of both masters, as well as being a dynamic example of cultural exchange both on the level of the text and on the level of the cast and crew, who came from all over the world, from South Africa to Paris, from Switzerland to the UK. Taking Ionian Productions across the channel for the first time was not without its challenges, but we overcame all obstacles and would jump at the chance to return to the continent again! We had fantastic audiences, particularly in Brussels, where one audience member even wrote us a poem in response to her experience.
Alceste - Chris Young
Philinte - Helen Reid
Juliet - Sophie Ablett
Nurse - Gianna Calvi
Roméo - Etienne Galharague in Paris & Guy Leroy in Brussels
Written by Helen Gush & Julia Hartley (with the kind assistance of William Shakespeare and Jean Baptiste Poquelin, known as Molière)
Directed by Helen Gush & Julia Hartley
Never Say Never (February 2012)
Valentin believes all married women are unfaithful, and therefore proposes to remain a happy bachelor. When his uncle praises to him the virtues of Mademoiselle de Mantes, who would make an ideal wife, Valentin proposes this wager : if, appearing under a false identity, he manages to seduce her, he has proven that women are not to be trusted. If she resists, however, he will marry her. What a scheme... were it not for the fact that Cécile is no fool.
Back in the Burton Taylor Studio for the first time since 'Phèdre', our second show there had far more sophisticated lighting, set and costumes. The choice to translate and adapt Alfred de Musset's 'Il ne faut jurer de rien' into English with a 20s setting was bold but proved a great success: the Wodehousian charm of the production transported the 19th century French script across the channel making this comedy an ideal St Valentine's date. Encouraged by the audience's positive response, the company is already planning on showcasing more new translations.
Producer & Marketing Director - Diana Greenwald
Translator & Director - Julia Hartley
Stage Manager - Elanor Banks
Lighting Design - Alison Gocke
Costume Design - Lara Bellenghi
Poster Design - Adam Levy
Trailer - Declan Clowry
Valentin - Orowa Sikder
Van Buck - Himanshu Kaul
Cécile - Sophie Ablett
Baroness - Katie Ebner-Landy
Priest - Sam Young
Dance Teacher - Vinny Cochrane
Waiter - Chris Young
Inn Keeper - Edward Still
Composed by Alex Baxter
Recorded and arranged by Oli Steadman with
Haewon Song on piano
Nathan Klein on trumpet
Michael Dunne on muted trumpet
Chris Young on saxophone
Ruth Jenkins on trombone
Oli Steadman on double-bass and drums
Counting Syllables (August 2011)
Richard, self-proclaimed poet and womanizer (or just a thirty-something university lecturer), is sleeping with Camille, a bright and talented student ten years his junior. For Richard she is just the latest conquest in a long line of pretty young things, but for his colleague and flat-mate Thomas, Camille is different from all the others
'Counting Syllables' is a story about the two sides of love: the one we read about in books and the one we experience first-hand. Written, directed and performed by an international cast of students from Oxford University, in this bittersweet portrayal of relationships among academics, poetry is just another pretentious façade concealing basic human instinct.
Written by Julia Hartley and directed by Fiamma Mazzocchi Alemanni, this was our first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe. As poor students we had to decline our offer at C Venues, but didn't regret our decision to take advantage of the up and coming Free Fringe. The staff at the Phoenix Bar were friendly and helpful, and we had brilliant international audiences who were keen to share their reactions.
Director - Fiamma Mazzocchi Alemanni
Producer - Polly Akhurst
Assistant Producer - Julia Hartley
Richard - Christopher Hinchcliffe
Thomas - Himanshu Kaul
Camille - Julia Hartley
Razeen - Orowa Sikder
Girl - Iante Roach & Charlotte Lennon
The Red and the Black (February 2011)
Young Julien Sorel is ambitious, but ever since the fall of Napoleon the only true weapon in France is hypocrisy. Come witness our protagonist fight his way to the very top of society using only a bit of Bible latin, a pair of irresistible eyes and a more than intrusive narrator. Observe in turn this cocky narrator lead us from one situation to another and switch accents and costumes with as much confidence as he maps out destinies... that is, until the events escape his control. Work out for yourselves when our characters cease to be Stendhal's puppets to become painfully real... and where the boundary lies between comedy and tragedy.
Back in Oxford for the year 2010-2011 it was time for Ionian Productions to regroup. Hartley chose to direct a piece of new writing this time: an adaptation of Stendhal's novel The Red and the Black by Oxford student and thespian Tara Isabella Burton. The adaptation was extremely fast paced, made up of many short scenes flowing seamlessly from one to the next with the presence of a narrator – doubling up as minor characters to assure overall unity – who literally nudged the audience into attention when a particular detail deserved picking up on.
On a financial level this was Ionian Productions' most ambitious project, featuring costumes from the National Theatre in London and renting Mansfield College Chapel as the venue. The actors were all new, but Baxter returned to compose a soundtrack worthy of the best period drama and 'Phèdre' actors James Balfour and Helen Gush joined the production team.
Producer - Helen Gush
Director - Julia Hartley
Composer - Alex Baxter
Wardrobe Manager - Nouran Koriem
Marketing Manager - James Balfour
Stendhal - Jordan Waller
Julien Sorel - Michael Brooks
Mme de Rênal - Abi Rees
M. de Rênal - Charles MacRae
Elisa - Jessica Norman
the Abbé Pirard - Brian McMahon
Mathilde de la Mole - Becky Moore
the Marquis de la Mole - Max Gill
Norbert de la Mole - Charles MacRae
Phèdre (June 2009)
This play was an unusual choice for the Oxford thespian scene due to the fact that it was in French, but Hartley and Akhurst succeeded in securing funding from Oxford colleges as well as a venue, the Burton Taylor Studio theatre, arguing that the show would sell if anything because it would attract a great number of French students. When it came to performance in June, the show was a sell-out and even non-French speaking audience members, aided by a detailed synopsis breaking down the plot act by act, were able to enjoy the performance.
Modern Languages students naturally gravitated towards the auditions and this resulted in a cast and production team whose enthusiasm proved more effective than any experience of the Oxford drama scene. The show thus stood out for the foreign language and the new faces on the stage, but also for its tailor-made costumes by Risha Kumar and original soundtrack by Alex Baxter. The set also featured two Ionian-style columns handmade by Akhurst, which gave the company its name.
Producer - Polly Akhurst
Director - Julia Hartley
Composer - Alex Baxter
Costume Design - Risha Kumar
Marketing - Hannah McGrath & Alix Fontaine
Phèdre - Farha Quadri
Oenone - Jennifer Hargrave
Hippolyte - Tom Besant
Théramène - Michaël Roy
Aricie - Helen Gush
Ismène - Marine Debray
Thésée - James Balfour
Panope - Alex Baxter