"Performing together was beautiful!"

As part of the SLC Drama Festival, students of Spanish put on a play called 'Pic-Nic' by Fernando Arrabal. In this 1959 anti-war satire, Arrabal dresses the horrors of war up as a happy family outing. Josephine Sennett directed the play and reports.

four students on a picnic blanket on a stage. 3 dressed as soldiers
From left to right: Chiara, Lea, Beth and Josephine

"Putting on a play is a daunting task, so let me start with a piece of advice: if you’re thinking about putting on a play, get the ball rolling as soon as you can at the start of the year and be prepared to put on more rehearsal sessions than you expect. If you are thinking of joining the cast, or being involved in the production, I would say yes, yes do it, you won't regret it."

By Josephine Sennett

"I have just finished in my second year of the BA Modern Languages and Cultures programme with Spanish and French as my languages. In the first semester I decided that I would like to organise the Spanish play. I settled on Pic-Nic with the help of my lecturer, Professor Phil Swanson. That was the easy bit. In the beginning I found it difficult to find cast members. Student life is busy and I found that more and more students take on paid work to supplement their income. However, as word got around, I managed to find the brave actors willing to commit to this 45-minute play – short but perfect for us. We were able to divide the play into four sections and base our two-hour practice sessions around a section each time.

On one of the nights we had nearly a full house and every single member of the audience offered nothing but support and encouragement!

Josephine Sennett

2nd year BAMLC (Spanish, French)

Even though our Spanish language is at different levels, we managed to create a really nice environment in which we could all help each other. I was the director but I made sure that the cast had a lot of input in how they interpreted their own characters and their role. This was very helpful to me as I was also acting one of the major parts in the play. 

We kept our rehearsals informal. Learning a play and performing it is difficult in your first language, let alone one you are studying! I was really lucky to have a cast that worked super hard on the script. At times we had some less “productive” sessions when we were just chatting, joking and laughing. It turns out that was exactly what we needed to bond more as a cast and to relax.

Three actors on stage, two dressed up as soldiers, one with a foot on the stomach of the other who is lying on the floor. Woman walks in from the right with arms out.

Are you interested in acting in one of our modern languages plays? I would say “go for it”, regardless of what level you have in the language. It is an amazing way to build up confidence in speaking the language and the sense of fulfilment from having worked so hard and put it on for an audience of your friends, lecturers, and course mates, is not something easily forgotten. When anxious, it’s important to remember that anyone coming to watch the play is not there to criticise you but to support you, and wants to see you do well!

Overall, I still feel immensely grateful for having had the opportunity to push myself to put on an event of this scale. Watching a cast of actors, as well as lecturers and members of the Hispanic Society, coming together to put on the play was beautiful!"

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