Behind the Scenes of Italia Conti’s Greek Project: A Defiant Second-Year Acting Performance

Behind the Scenes of Italia Conti's Greek Project
Behind the Scenes of Italia Conti's

Diving into one of Italia Conti’s most distinctive projects, the Greek Project, a transformative experience for our second-year acting students. We had the pleasure of speaking with Christopher Sivertsen, the leader of our MA/MFA Teaching and Coaching Actors’ Movement course, and Head Tutor for Actors’ Movement at Italia Conti.

Deciding to pursue advanced acting training is both exciting and daunting. Could you start by telling us a bit about the origins of the Greek Project?

“The Greek Project started in 2014 as an innovative collaboration between our voice and movement departments. I came in as a movement practitioner, working specifically with ensemble and chorus towards embodied and dynamic storytelling. What began as an experimental endeavour has now become a celebrated annual tradition at Italia Conti, enriching our students’ education and acting prowess.”

Could you elaborate on the preparation process for the Greek Project?

“Preparation for the Greek Project is a meticulous process. Over seven weeks, our students participate in weekly Greek Chorus movement and voice sessions. These sessions are intensive, gradually building from improvisations to a cohesive performance piece. The initial rehearsals are divided into smaller groups, eventually merging to form a unified ensemble. This methodical approach not only refines their technical skills but also fosters a sense of unity and collaboration among the students.”

What are some of the personal and professional growth experiences that students go through during this project?

“The Greek Project pushes our students beyond their comfort zones, demanding personal and professional growth. This experience is particularly transformative as it allows students to experiment with complex Greek texts and perform in non-traditional public spaces.” 

Harrison, one of our students, shared his insights: “Performing outside was a huge challenge, but seeing the public’s reaction to our work was incredible. It was an eye-opening experience.”

There are quite a few challenges involved. What obstacles do the students face, and how do they overcome them?

“The challenges of the Greek Project are substantial. Students must grapple with the intricate language and intense emotions characteristic of Greek drama. Balancing the rigorous rehearsal schedule with their academic responsibilities is another common hurdle. The physical demands of the performance require peak physical conditioning and stamina, offering a realistic glimpse into the physicality needed in the acting industry. Embracing uncertainty in the creative process is also a vital trust exercise, allowing the text and movement to guide their performance organically. Adapting epic texts like Agamemnon and Medea for public spaces further tests their ability to balance theatrical elements with accessibility.”

How does the training at Italia Conti help students overcome these challenges?

“At Italia Conti, our training emphasises mutuality and teamwork. Students learn to leverage each other’s strengths, fostering a supportive environment that mirrors professional theatre dynamics. They often dedicate their time to perfecting lines and choreography, demonstrating their commitment and passion. This dedication culminates in a brief yet crucial warm-up session before the final performance, ensuring they are physically and mentally prepared.”

How has the audience reception been for the Greek Project?

“The reception of the Greek Project is always overwhelmingly positive. Our performances attract a diverse audience, including industry professionals, family members, and fellow students. The high standard of our productions often leaves a lasting impression. Audience members frequently comment on the impressive skills displayed and the innovative adaptation of ancient texts. I fondly recall that the audience’s engagement was palpable. People came and went; some stayed for the entire performance, and children observed. The feedback was consistently positive, reflecting our students’ hard work and dedication.”

It’s clear that the Greek Project has a significant impact on the students. How would you summarise its importance in their development?

“The Greek Project is a pivotal experience for our second-year acting students at Italia Conti. It offers them an invaluable opportunity to hone their skills, confront and overcome significant challenges, and grow personally and professionally. The rigorous preparation, supportive teamwork, and enthusiastic audience reception all contribute to making this project a highlight of our acting curriculum.”

It sounds like the Greek Project is an extraordinary journey for the students.

“It truly is. We invite everyone to witness our students’ remarkable talent and dedication at our next Greek Project performance. It’s an experience that brings ancient Greek drama to life in innovative and inspiring ways.Our Greek Project is a defining experience for second-year acting students, offering them unparalleled opportunities to develop their skills and showcase their talent. The comprehensive preparation, transformative student experiences, challenges overcome, and positive audience reception all make this drama school project a highlight of the Italia Conti curriculum. For anyone interested in witnessing the future stars of the acting world, the Greek Project is a must-see performance.”

  • “I have just graduated from Liverpool Theatre School with a Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre. I wanted to do the BA Hons (Top Up) in Professional Arts Practice course to further develop my skills for the industry. It is the perfect balance between academic writing and creativity. I already have seen improvements, both in my academic and performing work, and I now really value the ability to critically reflect on past experiences in order to improve my current skills.”

    - Sarah Collinge – Musical Theatre Performer Current Student, Class of July 2024
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    - Kate Drummond – Actor Current Student, Class of July 2024
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    - Amy-Jo Sumner – Musical Theatre Performer
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    - Rachel Ward – Performing Arts Tutor Graduate, BA Top up Class of Sept 2022
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