The play, Fame, was superbly acted by the Brighton Theatre Group (BTG). The performance was well timed, and enthusiastic until the very end. The actors took their roles very seriously, and it was hard to believe that each of them was below the age of 18.
The stage show marks a stylistic break from the original film and television series on which it is based, not least because it is live and the performers no longer have the freedom to retake scenes and have the finished footage tweaked by editors. Film actors undoubtedly work hard in their performances, but they have the space to repeat lines, notes and choreography. The young theatre group in this production do not have that privilege. Nonetheless, each song and routine was perfected, and one can only imagine the hard work that went into producing it.
The performers respected each other’s space, knew their lines by heart, and there was not a note out of tune. Scenes from the television series were carefully chosen and adapted. The stark class differences, the morals and ethics of each profession, and the chemistry between the characters were shown to the most minute detail. A vast collage of characters were on display: the show girl who likes to be the center of attention, the boy of colour who is a brilliant dancer but struggles with grades, the playboy of the high school, the boy who comes from a family of classical musicians and finds it hard to find his own voice, the girl who performs ballet like a swan and everyone assumes she has a silver spoon – each and every single one of them showed the dark side of the arts, and the hard work that goes into the pursuit of stardom.
Fame does not come easy, and the teachers in the play made sure that this message stood out throughout. Yes, talents matter, but the play taught us that the struggles of competition in the ever changing world of entertainment should not be undermined. While the play showed the difficulties of high school life, it also showed the difficulty of standing out when faced with adversities of different kinds. It could be competition at school, or not being taken seriously because of your age, or drugs, or the changing atmosphere of the High School of Performing Arts in New York.
Another interesting aspect of the play was the clash between two teachers because a boy was a brilliant dancer, but his grades were sloppy. They had a musical strife where it was questioned if he should perform or not. There is no clear winner, but the fact that two teachers are seen fighting over the future of a boy different from the rest, showed the struggles of teaching these students too. The students were busy experimenting with hip-hop, rock, and pop, while the teachers were more interested in imparting their classical knowledge. There is a clash of generations, of schools of thought, of a hundred decisions within an arts school, and there is also the fear that not everyone will make it to fame and success; the idea that most of them will need other skills to survive in the world is ever-looming in this performance.
The execution of these themes was perfect, and the director should be very proud of each of the group members. BTG not only won our hearts with their grace and candour, but they made their grandparents, parents, and uncles and aunts very proud on their first night. They swept our hearts and won a standing ovation. I believe each of them is on their own road to fame, as the play suggests.
Featured Image: The Old Market