19th century melodrama acting – a workshop

“pathos, overwrought or heightened emotion, moral polarization (good vs. evil), non-classical narrative structure (e.g., use of extreme coincidence and deus ex machine), and sensationalism”

That is how melodrama has been described by Ben Singer in his book Melodrama and Modernity (Columbia University Press)

Playing in those melodramas required a very particular acting style.  Now a project at the University of Warwick is offering the opportunity to train in the acting styles and theatrical traditions of 19th Century melodrama, and audition for a role in Pixerécourt’s Fortress.

The workshop will take place at 10am-5pm, 17 June 2017 at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond. Cost: Free.  (Booking essential)

  • Exciting opportunity for adults (over 16s) to receive free expert training in the acting styles and theatrical traditions of 19th-century melodrama, within the country’s most complete Georgian playhouse, as part of a project funded by the AHRC.
  • Chance to audition for a role in a production of Guilbert de Pixerécourt’s The Fortress on the Danube (1805), to be performed across a week at the Theatre Royal Richmond during the Georgian Festival, marking the first adaptation of an early French melodrama to appear in over a century.

The Workshop

Guided by 19th-century theatre specialists and a professional director, attendees will be offered the chance to develop skills in melodramatic acting techniques including:

  • The externalisation of emotion
  • The ability to move to music
  • The delivery of a melodramatic script

By partaking in stimulating practical exercises, participants will acquire in-depth knowledge of the stylistically unique genre that dominated early nineteenth-century theatre.

The Audition

All attendees are invited to audition for a role in Pixerécourt’s Fortress, a melodrama exploring the conflict between love and duty. A range of parts are on offer, big and small, serious and comic, including a sentimental father, a cross-dressed daughter, and a drunken castle-keeper.
No previous acting experience is required. Auditionees must be available to rehearse and perform in Richmond between 20-25th August 2017.

Performance: Friday 25th August 2017, 7.30pm

The Team

Sarah Wynne Kordas: Professional Director and actor with 17 years theatrical experience. Producer of three short films, and recently commissioned to write her first feature length screen play. Currently touring as Nurse Paisley in Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgame with Tabs Productions, and guest-directing new writing for the Windsor Fringe Festival.
Dr Katherine Astbury: Chief investigator of AHRC-funded project ‘Staging Napoleonic Theatre’. Co-organiser of 2014 workshop ‘The Melodramatic Moment: 1790-1820.’ Presently working with English Heritage to stage a production at Portchester Castle of French melodrama Roseliska ou amour, haine et vengeance.
Dr Sarah Burdett: Theatre historian specialising in early 19th-century acting styles and British melodrama of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Periods. Has co-directed and acted in Brechtian performances staged at venues including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Norwich Puppet Theatre with K2 Productions.
Dr Diane Tisdall: Professional violinist and music historian specialising in 19th-century French music and culture. Trained at internationally acclaimed institutions including the Université Aix-Marseille, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Newcastle Conservatorium, Australia.


Food and Drink Provided. If wishing to attend, please complete a booking form

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