St Andrews is a veritable hub of innovative and interesting theatre; last year alone saw an all-female “King Lear”, an interactive production of the opera “Dido and Aeneas”, and “Pistorious: A Shakespearian Tragedy”, a student-written play, performed at Edinburgh Fringe. However, whilst visual and physical productions are abundant, the drama scene has never quite managed to penetrate the world of radio theatre. This is all about to change with the forthcoming production “Citizens of Nowhere” an episodic radio play to be released through STAR. The show is arguably one of the most innovative pieces of student theatre to come not only to St Andrews, but to the UK wide student theatre sphere in recent years. I sat down with some members of cast and crew to discuss where the idea came from, and what it means to be involved.
Originally the brain child of third year English student, Jamie Rodney, Citizens of Nowhere was partially inspired by an un-ironic love of Radio 4s “The Archers”, something I’m sure many of us who grew up in middle-class British families can relate to. A few weeks into the process, in June last year, Jamie was joined by second year English and Psychology student, Claire Fenerty. Together the pair set out to create a story arch which focussed solely on us, the students of St Andrews, and the issues that touch this community.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Citizens of Nowhere, is that the series was created, written, and cast remotely over the summer break, with Claire and Jamie working 8 hours apart, in Glasgow and California, and conducting auditions over the phone, often with a third time zone thrown in the mix. The writing was done collaboratively, with a team of about six writers working on a Google document; Claire is eager to emphasise that with twelve episodes to create, this shows an incredible amount of commitment from people who had never even met each other, yet still chose to spend their summer working to complete this project.
The radio play is centred around Abigail and Josh, two students from very different backgrounds, who get thrown together in their Freshers’ Week. We follow them as they embark on university life, exploring how they ingratiate themselves into different aspects of university life and how the decisions they make affect them and shape their path at university.
Many of the actors in Citizens of Nowhere have come to the project with a very limited background in acting, and those who do have experience, have previously only focussed on theatre itself with the concept of voice acting being new to many. Sanger Steel, who plays Josh, has had no acting experience at all in the past, and was encouraged to audition by his friends. The advantage of the project being such a new medium to St Andrews, is that it is far less intimidating to audition for than something which is already well-established, such as any of the Mermaids plays.
On the flipside, Sophia Anderson, voicing the part of Abigail, is the one cast member with copious experience in voice acting, mostly done remotely via the internet. When I asked her what drew her to this project then, over those which she might be payed for, her answer was simple: “It’s a story I want to tell.” Creators Jamie and Claire eagerly back this up, telling me that the driving force for the plot was an ambition to tell the real stories of St Andrews.”
With the level of commitment and enthusiasm shown by both the creative team and the cast, Citizens of Nowhere should be a really successful project, and I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go.
For more information, and to get involved with Series 2 please email Jamie (jjr4) or Claire (cmf22) or message the Citizen of Nowhere page on Facebook.