City Lit Blog

Q&A with Roxanne Cavanagh, Level 3 Acting Diploma

Story added 20th Nov 2020

Roxanne Cavanagh


Ahead of the City Lit Theatre Company's online adaptation of Cristian Solimeno's highly acclaimed film 'I Made This For You' this December, we caught up with Roxanne Cavanagh, who plays the role of Dani, to discuss the transition to an online rehearsals and production.

 

What courses have you done at City Lit?

I’ve done several different courses at City Lit, including the Level 3 Acting Diploma and the Foundation course, plus a number of short courses. I’ve also performed in plays as part of the City Lit Theatre Company. The teaching is consistently good, and courses are led by tutors with industry experience which is really important to me. I also enjoy working alongside a wide range of other actors of different ages and experiences in class – it keeps things interesting, and I’ve made lots of friends through the classes I’ve taken.

Tell us about the forthcoming production ‘I Made This For You’ based on the film by Cristian Solimeno, Directed by Gary Grant? 

An online play is a challenging proposition, as so much of acting is about the connection you have with the other actors as well as with the audience. However, after watching Cristian Solimeno’s film from which the play is adapted, I knew that the piece would work well for this format. Whilst I of course hope live theatre can resume properly very soon, I do think that a lot of creativity has emerged out of this current crisis, and in some ways digital theatre is a new artform. What we’re doing with I Made This for You makes the most of the digital platform, blending live direct-to-camera monologues with pre-recorded footage. I think we’ll be able to produce something intimate and engaging.

Having worked with Gary Grant before at City Lit and beyond, I was confident that he would be able to deliver a high-quality production despite the challenges of the medium. I knew working with Gary would be a good learning experience for me, which it definitely has been so far. His significant professional experience in screen acting and directing is so applicable to digital performance, as Zoom acting is really just another form of screen acting – but with the added pressure of it being live.

We’re four weeks into rehearsals now. Rehearsing a play online does sometimes feel odd, but it’s working well. We have breakout rooms within Zoom, which means when we’re not working with Gary we can work together on improvisations or character biographies, or chat to the tech crew about things like costume and staging (yes, there are still lots of considerations about set and staging even when we’re each performing from our own house!)

I’m playing the role of Dani. In the play she has made a film for her sister, interviewing the important people in her sister’s life in a last-ditch attempt to get through to her. One of the things that has worked well in this play is that casting was very flexible. My role sticks fairly closely to that of the original film, but we’ve switched the gender. Other parts have been adapted or created from scratch to fit the actor. We have a great cast, and everyone has a substantial role.

The play looks at depression and suicide in a very human and relatable way. We see the central character through the eyes of those who know her, which gives the piece much more energy and humour than you might expect from the subject matter. 

'I Made This For You'

Friday 4 December 2020. 19:30-22:00, Online
Saturday 5 December 2020, 14:00-16:30, Online

Tickets £5 (optional donations to the City Lit Theatre Company Bursary)

Directed by Gary Grant, who starred in the original film and especially adapted for City Lit,  this searingly honest play tackles mental health and depression head on. The taboo of mental health, depression and suicide is handled with sensitivity and tact, and also features moments of affectionate humour to provide an underlying theme of hope and resilience.

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Zoom rehearsal with the 'I Made This For You' cast and crew;