Thanks to some seriously comprehensive publicity, anyone in St Andrews with access to the internet has probably heard by now of Ricky III. Soon to be hitting Venue 1, Ricky III is a brand new interpretation of Shakespeare’s Richard III, in which the English monarch becomes an American cheerleader and the battlefields and castles of England are replaced by high school hallways and gymnasiums.
‘British television in some respects is very Americanised,’ says director Charlotte Branfield. ‘We have so many American shows about high school, I thought it would be funny if that was where this very British play should be set. After that the cheerleading clique seemed perfect – in Texas there actually are cases of people killing for their team or to get captaincy!’
In fact, despite all the male characters becoming female and vice versa, Charlotte had to make surprisingly few changes to the original script. ‘The biggest change is the length. I’ve shortened it from four hours to about two. This was the most challenging – what to take out, what to leave. It’s all relevant to the story and the atmosphere it creates, and when the writer is Shakespeare it certainly doesn’t make it any easier.’
‘I think it’s brought the play into a realistic modern setting,’ says Maia Krall-Fry, who will be playing Ricky. ‘The gender inversion works fantastically as all the power balances between characters shift and new struggles are presented.’ She describes her character as ‘an ambitious, manipulative, and hate-filled girl. Finding her inner reasoning and the drive for her action in the context of the play’s setting has probably been the most challenging thing. But playing and experimenting with such a far-fetched character has been a treat.’
Kyle Mest and Millicent Wilkinson are behind the costumes for this production. ‘We both had different thoughts on what would work for the punks and the cheerleaders,’ says Millicent. ‘I have a strong love for Vivienne Westwood so the ideas for the punks needed to be more Sex Pistols and less Harajuku. Our main source for the costumes was Dundee high street and we’re currently working on properly fixing them up.’
Director Charlotte took on the role of set design herself. ‘There is much more to think about than I first thought,’ she admits. ‘It was a stressful process! I wanted various levels – the stage is tiered in a way that it could, with the cast on it, be visually like a cheerleading pyramid. As it’s high school there are lockers that people can walk on, and the floor is green for grass – it’s kind of an inside meets out!’
Venue 1 played host to a couple of productions last year, and this year it looks set to host a handful more, including Ricky III. ‘Venue 1 is brilliant,’ says Charlotte. They have loads of lighting and equipment and are flexible with regards to where you perform and what your stage looks like. So where better than the Students’ Association?’
Ricky III will be showing from the 6th-8th December at 7pm, with a matinee performance at 2pm on Wednesday the 7th, in Venue 1. ‘I want it to be a show where the audience is enveloped by this world,’ says Charlotte. ‘Fingers crossed!’
For more information visit www.rickyiii.co.uk.
Image credits – illustrations by Miranda Burnett-Stewart and poster design by Adelaide Waldrop