Saskia, Maddie and Megan - Debutante Production Team

SUTCo's Week 8 show, Debutante, is written by our very own Saskia Dowley and tells the story of Amelia Luckett, a young society girl caught in a web of love and deceit. Debutante runs at the Local Theatre from 20th - 23rd November.

Saskia, where did you get the idea for Debutante?

Saskia: The question dreaded by all writers! Honestly, I don't know; my ideas just come to me. I came home after a social last year and wrote the plot down on four A5 pages of my notebook. Obviously, it's changed a lot since then, but I knew how the story would turn out from the start.

And how did you find the writing process?

Saskia: Stressful! I developed a scene-by-scene breakdown first, which made the script-writing easier, since I knew where each scene was going. Once I had that, it was a solid three weeks of writing one or two scenes at least every day, and then a few days of editing. By the end I felt like my brain was melting! But it was also a lot of fun, because once I got into the swing of things the characters started to make their own decisions and that was great fun!

Have you enjoyed directing a piece you have written yourself?

Saskia: I've loved almost every second of it! The cast are an absolute joy to work with and they each embody their character so well. It's very odd to see the characters I've had in my head for past year walking and talking in front of me! I'm still pinching myself.

Maddie, this is your first time producing for SUTCo. What made you want to take on the job?

Maddie: Yes, this is my first time producing! I have only ever acted in SUTCo shows before, ('Anatomy of Gray', 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Female Transport'), and so I appealed to the idea of being on a production team for a change. I was also keen to become more involved in SUTCo and to learn about what goes into putting on a show.

How have you balanced your role as producer with acting in 'Female Transport' and other commitments?

Maddie: It has been quite a challenge balancing multiple commitments in one semester, however, by managing my time and asking for help when I’ve needed it I have managed to get on top of everything. I’m also very grateful to members of committee for being extremely supportive throughout the producing process, and I honestly couldn’t have done it without them!

And how would you describe the unique selling point of Debutante?

Maddie: Debutante is unique in being a newly written period drama piece that manages to blend multiple genres such as romance, mystery and thriller. As such it appeals to a wide range of people rather than just one audience! It also has plenty of warmth and humour that balances out the darker moments in the play, and for this reason it is genuinely entertaining to watch.

Megan, have you found being on a SUTCo production team much different from working with other societies and companies in Sheffield, i.e. USLES, Hell or High Treason?

Megan: There are always crossovers between the ways various societies and companies work, but I often find SUTCo to be fairly different from the perspective of production managing. I think that although it can be far more stressful than most other companies I’ve worked with, the technical equipment and support on offer are great!

Has the period setting of Debutante offered exciting opportunities for set, costume, etc.?

Megan: There have been some pretty cool things to seek out to keep the piece fairly historically accurate! The vast majority of the tech team are almost, if not entirely, new to tech, but everyone has risen to the challenge of a period piece within a small venue incredibly well!

As a piece of new writing, do you feel that Debutante has been more flexible in terms of tech?

Megan: Reasonably so, yes! Saskia has had a vision from the start of how she wants the piece to look, so for costume and set there have been a lot of ideal items to source – however for lights and sound the piece has been pretty much free-range for interpretation from the designers!

And finally, could you tell us your favourite moments from rehearsals?

Saskia: I don't know if I can pick a favourite. It might have been choreographing the dance (I won't say much more on that for fear of spoilers!), but I have a soft spot for Finn's Gavin and Stacey impressions.

Maddie: Rehearsals have been so much fun, but my favourite moment would have to be teaching the cast how to play Purple Elephant!

Megan: A traditionally odd choice, but I would have to say the get-in! The experiences of a 2.5 mile round trip in the cold rain to fetch scaff, a somewhat terrifying structure build, and airbeds and snacks were truly unforgettable, and served as excellently questionable bonding exercises for the tech team.