Current student Demi Walters got in touch with Ben Hughes who recently danced in Matthew Bourne’s production of Lord of the Flies at the Marlowe Theatre. Ben is currently in his second year studying Dance Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. Demi asked him a few questions about the process.
- What was your rehearsal schedule like and how intense were they?
The rehearsal schedule started off very slowly soon after the final auditions, often having only one 3-4 hour sessions a fortnight. However, around a month before the show was due to start rehearsals picked up considerably. Two weeks before the first show an intensive schedule began with daily rehearsals from 11am until 6pm – headed by tour director Alan Vincent. At the start of the second week we were joined by the professional dancers and finally had a chance to use the set. These days also ran from 11am until 6pm; however over 16’s had the opportunity to participate in an extra class led by professionals focusing on Ballet & Contemporary technique from 10am until 11am.
The rehearsals were tiring both physically and mentally, however morale was kept high to keep us focused on getting the show finished.
- What was it like working with an all boy cast of such different ages?
It was great to work with boys again; it’s been something I have missed a lot, more than I initially thought I did. I was fortunate enough at school to have a boys company formed when I was 14, this is when I started dancing. However this experience had a broader range of ages. With everyone being male it was much easier to just get stuck in and within days we were forming good friendships and seeing how we could lift each other. Towards the end of the show the older cast members would occasionally meet up outside of rehearsals, for example when we went to support one of the other cast members band playing in a local pub. Even once the shows had finished there has been talk of some of us meeting up again, both socially and to work on projects with each other again.
- How did you find the audience reaction to the show?
The reaction to the show was simply magical. There are many times when I have been lost for words over what audience members have said and even times when I began to cry simply because of the things that were being said. Each evening performance of the show has become one of my personal favourite moments of my life, being on stage and just seeing the whole auditorium standing with a deafening roar of applause, moments I will never forget. It’s also been pretty surreal, seeing newspaper articles & reviews, being on the news on TV, going to audience Q&A sessions and I even signed a few audience members’ programmes.
As someone who just a few months ago didn’t have much confidence in what they were doing, to then have people come up to you and say that is the best show they have seen in years, the feeling you get is simply unexplainable in words and it has only pushed me to want to do even better.
Lord of the Flies has left a lasting impression on everyone who saw it, one that not only showcases boys dance at its best, but also that amazing dancers can come from anywhere at any age no matter their skill level.