Students Staff

22 May 2015

Emerging director benefits from partnership between Mercury Theatre and University of Essex

Richard Hornsby

Richard Hornsby at the Mercury Theatre (Copyright Robert Day)

MA student Richard Hornsby has been working as an assistant director on the Mercury Theatre’s hit farce Noises Off thanks to a partnership between the leading regional theatre and the University.

Through the role Richard, who is studying for an MA in Drama by Dissertation: Theatre Practice, gained unique insights into the directing process from the Mercury’s Artistic Director Daniel Buckroyd. Now he is using that experience to put the finishing touches to his own production of My Name is Rachel Corrie which he is taking to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

“It is a theatre I have been going to for many years so it was a bit of a thrill to get to work there,” he told the Daily Gazette newspaper.

“Mind you on the first day I was absolutely terrified. Thankfully the cast were amazing. They came up to me and said: ‘Hey don’t worry about it, we’re all new here too.'

“I’ve had such an incredible time. Technically Noises Off is such a challenging and complex play so that has been pretty good for me to see and just watching what Daniel does has already reaped rewards with what I’ve been doing in My Name is Rachel Corrie."

The MA course is focused around practice-based research and one of Richard's fellow students will be completing a placement at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich in the autumn.

My Name is Rachel Corrie will preview this week at the Lakeside Theatre. The play is based on the diaries and writings of the American peace activist who was killed, aged just 23, in the Gaza Strip where she was protesting against the destruction of Palestinian homes.

Richard completed his undergraduate studies at Essex and he came across Rachel's story while taking the module Theatre and Human Rights.

Richard said: “I’m doing a practice-led Masters which means I have to present a production which supports my dissertation and I thought My Name is Rachel Corrie would be perfect for that.

“The play is a segment of Rachel’s diaries, journals and poetry, which has been put together by the actor Alan Rickman and journalist Katherine Viner.

“Essentially it is a one-woman show, but I’ve case four different actors.

“I’ve done that for several reasons, one of which is because it is exam time and it is a little unfair to ask just one person to learn the whole show, but also because I wanted to have a mix of nationalities.

“Rachel Corrie was a young woman from America. That’s why her death hit the headlines, but she spoke for people all over this world.

“I first read it in my third year as part of my theatre and human rights module and I instantly became attached to it.”

Previews of My Name is Rachel Corrie take place at the Lakeside Theatre at the Colchester Campus on Friday 22 May and Saturday 23 May.

Anyone who would like to support Richard’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival project can go to:

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