Old Fire Station Blog

News, happenings and goings on from the Old Fire Station, Oxford

Interview: Squadron Leader Andy Mitchell on RAFTA’s Much Ado About Nothing

This week, the Royal Air Force Theatrical Association (RAFTA) take over the Old Fire Station and have a five show run of one of the Bard’s best loved comedies, Much Ado About Nothing.
We caught up with Squadron Leader Andy Mitchell, the Chairman of RAFTA, to find out more about the project…

Theatre and the RAF could sound like an unlikely combination, how did a RAF Theatrical Association come about?

Well, there has been theatre in the RAF since the RAF began; in both World Wars and between you would have found airmen acting in all sorts of guises all across the world: it was good for morale! RAFTA as we know it today was founded in 1974, when a group of like-minded individuals decided that it would be sensible to have a formal organisation to link the various theatre clubs that existed around the RAF. The organisation would strive to improve theatre in the RAF, and provide a forum for thespians to keep in touch with one another and share their love of theatre!

If RAFTA is open to all, do you have Officers mixing with Sergeants, Corporals mixing with Commodores? Are there any funny stories to tell?

Yes, RAFTA is open to all ranks, and to civilian members also (something that began with the families of serving personnel), and it all works very well. Plenty of stories, but to protect the guilty, none that I could possibly go to print with….

Because of the nature of the RAF, your rehearsal schedule is rather unusual. You only rehearse for one weekend a month over twelve months, am I right?

RAFTA runs what it calls a ‘Project’ production every 2 years, drawing on members from across the Association (eg across the country) to form the Company. Given this spread of participants, we are unable to bring people together in the same way that a local drama club would be able to, and so we all travel to a single location one weekend a month over 12 months (to spread the cost to the individuals, and to allow the production team the time to organise the production). This does present challenges: it is not always easy to remember things such as lines and blocking when you have a month’s gap between rehearsals! What is really lovely is the feel of family that you get when the Company comes together each month, which is something that really makes a RAFTA Project a fantastic experience.

You’ve previously done Sweeney Todd, Tom Jones, Hotel Paradiso, Oklahoma, Return to the Forbidden Planet and many others. How did you decide on this year’s show – a 1920’s inspired version on Much Ado About Nothing?

Nearly 2 years ago now the RAFTA Committee asked the members of RAFTA to propose productions that they would want to have produced for the RAFTA Project 2013 (and, ideally, that they were prepared to direct!). There were 4 very strong proposals, but Ali Kirkwood’s desire to direct Much Ado About Nothing in Oxford really shone through and we thought that putting on this classic Shakespeare Comedy in the City of Dreaming Spires would be a fun and challenging Project.

And finally, what can we expect from the show?

The beautiful words of the Bard pulled from the page and sprung into life on the stage! Some wonderful chemistry between Beatrice and Benedick, a suitably malignant Don John, a commanding Leonato and a dysfunctional Dogberry with an unlikely band of Watchmen…

Much Ado about Law Enforcement…
Much Ado about Love…
Much Ado about Lust…
Much Ado about Masked Balls…
Much Ado about Mischief…
Much Ado about Mistaken Identity…
Much Ado About Nothing!

RAFTA’s Much Ado About Nothing is on from 28th August – 31st August, 7.30pm (Saturday Matinee, 2.30pm). Tickets are available via our website – http://www.oldfirestation.org.uk/event/much-ado-about-nothing/


One comment on “Interview: Squadron Leader Andy Mitchell on RAFTA’s Much Ado About Nothing

  1. Liz Hill
    August 27, 2013

    Looking forward to seeing the matinee performance om Saturday – coming from the west midlands

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This entry was posted on August 27, 2013 by in Comedy, Interview, Theatre and tagged , , , , , , , .
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