One Under is a play about the London Underground, but not the sweat- and stress-filled stereotype we love to hate. Using interviews and real-life testimonies, we move beyond the silence of the carriage and into the desires and frustrations of individual passengers. Bodies brush against each other, dreams abound, and – for a few fragile moments – lives intersect in strange and surprising ways.
PartingShot, the company behind One Under, is comprised of students from a variety of universities and drama schools. Three of the core group come from Oxford (Katie Carpenter, Phoebe Eclair-Powell and Matt Gavan), whilst the fourth (Rosy Banham) is from Bristol University. For this project, we are reuniting with set designer Matthew Morris from the Ruskin School of Art, movement director Fionn Cox-Davies from London Contemporary, and sound designer Sam Andrews from London College of Communication.
First conceived in a London bar last November, the cast began conducting interviews and research in March, breaking the ultimate London taboo of talking to strangers on the commute. Rehearsals proper began at the end of May and are ongoing. We are particularly fortunate to have obtained The Pleasance as our venue, after pitching the show to Cas and Anthony, the Pleasance fringe programmers. We also have a great producer (Ed Frankl, Bristol University), who has helped us with accommodation and transport – a good producer is a must for Edinburgh, as there is much more money at stake than your average student production here in Oxford.
Working with a cross-university cast does have its downside. We have found it difficult to obtain funding from either our Colleges or OUDS (a car boot sale may have to be on the cards), and rehearsals around busy schedules become particularly tricky when long train journeys are thrown into the mix. However, the benefits of a carefully selected diverse cast and crew outweigh these in the long run. Although it is impractical for Oxford-based production, an Edinburgh project can take advantage of this injection of new ideas, influences and enthusiasm.
We have all been to Edinburgh festival before, and between us we have at least six different Edinburgh shows under our belts. The festival is a unique place to see new work and share ideas, and we’ve really felt that “Edinburgh buzz” in preparing this show, especially when our research material has taken us in surprising directions.