Late October saw the debut of Amphibious, a play penned by current Literature and History student Lydia Corsland. The play was performed at York Theatre Royal. Words Matter Blogger Jenna Houston sat down with Lydia to discuss the play: its genesis, performance and reception.
By Jenna Houston
Amphibious focusses on six interns all vying for the same position in one company and explores the relationship between ambition and architecture and the idea that the world post-teenage years is more taxing now than it ever has been. This piece of theatre is undoubtedly relatable to every twenty-something trying to understand and piece together what they want to do with their life. Amphibious focusses on the walls that prevent success, while simultaneously highlighting the potential we have to make it all the way to the top.
Lydia Crosland, a third-year English Literature and History student had a role as one of these six interns in Amphibious and performs a monologue that centres on all the things she imagined her twenty-year old self to be. She talks about imagining life differently to what it is now in a comical, yet truthful way saying she’ll be ‘super smart’, ‘looking like a supermodel’ and having that perfect relationship and compares this to a very different reality. This is something that is relatable to most people, and I found myself laughing along but also relating to the struggles and triumphs of each performer on stage. It effortlessly conveyed the struggles of the modern day twenty-something with comic undertones and thought-provoking monologues.
Jenna: How did getting involved with Amphibious come about?
Lydia: I was involved with the Everything is Possible play on at the Theatre Royal in early summer that was about the York suffragettes – and saw on social media that there was a request for auditions with the date and who to get in touch with, so I just emailed and had an audition. I prepared a monologue and a song and had a chat with the artistic director and producer of Takeover Festival 2017.
J: Can you tell me a little bit more about the Takeover Festival for those who might not have heard about it before?
L: The Takeover Festival happens every year and is entirely run by young people, and allows them to get involved with different roles of theatre by shadowing someone who works in that role at the Theatre Royal who mentors them – so these young people are getting first hand experience of what it’s like to be a producer or director.
J: What was the most rewarding aspect of being part of Amphibious?
L: I’m not sure if I can pick one! But I think the process of writing creatively surprised me as I didn’t realise how much I’d enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed devising but I’ve always preferred script-work but I think the style of devising where we got to try out writing scenes and then just bringing them into rehearsals and trying them out forced me to be creative in the best way, rather than just relying on my acting, and was also a big change from the academic writing I’m used to at university. Also meeting new people within the cast and crew was a big highlight.
J: How did you find the writing process for Amphibious generally? Was it something that came more naturally to you than expected?
L: No it definitely didn’t come naturally – I think a lot of it was just me letting go of any anxiety that I had about presenting any work that I’d made or any writing I’d done. But I think once you realise that it’s a safe space and once I began to trust the other people in the rehearsal room I realised that it didn’t matter what I made or wrote because even if it didn’t fit what we were trying to create it was fine because no one was going to judge me for it. It was just about letting go of any preconceptions that I had about writing and letting my brain just write what it wanted to really!
J: What would be your advice for any aspiring performers or anyone considering getting involved with theatre in York?
L: I think just take up as many opportunities as you can and don’t be nervous about the outcome because I think with a devised piece it can be easy to worry about what is going to be made and how you’re going to do certain things because you are just walking into the dark. But any experience, especially with a professional producer at a theatre is going to benefit you in ways you can’t imagine. It’s not necessarily about the work that you’re creating, it’s about what you learn about yourself as a creator. And my main piece of advice it to just learn from other people and listen to everything that happens because it is an invaluable skill.
J: How do you find performing for an audience and do you think that being involved in drama has helped develop your confidence?
L: So I used to get really nervous – but one day I realised that it’s my favourite thing in the world to do so why would I ruin it by getting nervous about what people thought? Obviously the point is for people to enjoy it, but I think you have to let go of this aspiration that everyone is going to love everything you do as an actress because acting is so a subjective. But by the end of Amphibious I was so proud of what we’d created I was just excited for people to see it and wasn’t too worried about the audience. And it’s definitely helped my confidence, I don’t think I’d have done a lot of things, including coming to university had I not developed my confidence through drama. I just completely changed my way of thinking about myself and helped me realise my own potential.
J: How did you balance university with your extracurricular activities?
L: It’s definitely difficult – really made me have to prioritise certain things because I realised that the two most important things to me are my degree and doing drama (aside from my family and friends of course!). So it can be really difficult when you’re doing something that really serious all the time and have to concentrate so much. Acting and drama is my favourite thing and helps my mental health so much that it has become my escape, and it has become my social life too. And I think with Amphibious it wasn’t about just turning up and doing your work and then going home, there was a lot of creativity and thinking going on when I got home too so I couldn’t just leave it at the theatre, which made it demanding in that sense. It’s definitely hard because both drama and my degree are very demanding – but it has taught me a lot about getting the right balance.