What is Thestival?
Thestival is an annual event hosted by HSU Theatre Society during spring. It spans over three nights where each night will see a different play and section performed, either comedy, drama or musical.
It gives the chance for members of the society to write and direct their own original scripts and has proven to be a massive success over the years.
A (not so) brief history of Thestival, by Michael Hudson
In 2013, President Chris Hempenstall created Playwrights Festival A two day event that showcased two original scripts from Sheffield Hallam Students, “The House Party” and “What Lies Behind the Door.” After only four short weeks of rehearsal, the event was hosted in what is now known as The Space. With only 27 seats available each nights, organisers were blown away as both nights saw over 50 paying entrance and dozens of people agreeing to stand or sit on the floor to watch these two contrasting original pieces. The project was a storming success not only in audience and interest but financially as well. With only £10 spent to produce both plays, HSU Theatre (then known as SHU Drama) saw the potential of low cost, licence free productions.
Michael Hudson, holding the award Thestival 2014 won for best event at Hallam Union awards.
One year later President Victoria Flynn and Secretary Michael Hudson decided to expand the festival even further. Thestival “Theatre-Festival” was born and designed to highlight the talent of both actors and production teams working with limited time and resources, but also the writing talents of society members and unknown playwrights. Alongside the plays there were showcases of different styles and genres of performing arts. Thestival 2014 saw “Angels” written by Michael Hudson and “Night of the Living Fred” by Joe Hobson being performed with “10 Ways to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” by Don Zolidis and three showcases of Comedy, Drama and Musicals. The three day even saw even more success. With only 8 weekly rehearsals, the event saw sell out audiences, standing ovations, trending of twitter in Sheffield for three days solid, and winning several awards at the first ever SHU Drama awards. After winning “Best Event” at the Hallam Union awards and being dubbed a financial success after working with a budget of £100, the committee put in place steps to ensure Thestival would become a regular part of the Sheffield Theatre Scene.
In 2015 Thestival returned even bigger with a production team of seven to showcase the best of British and American humour, drama worthy of the academy, and the A-Z of music. Original scripts were also presented by Joe Hobson in “Not Another Horror Story” and Michael Hudson’s “Firsts” whilst Michael Winrow directed the hilarious slapstick comedy “Erica and Me”. Once again Thestival saw support from friends, family, and the Sheffield theatre scene to create a three-night event enjoyed by over 150 people.
Another year and another leap forward, a production team of eleven took on the challenge of putting on Thestival 2016. Original comedy script “Game Night” written and directed by Toby Steers and Joseph Bryan was a huge success and will now see it's sequel performed with HSU Theatre in November 2016. It was performed alongside “Bang Bang You’re Dead” directed by Michael Hudson and “Hard to Swallow” directed by President Liam Jewison. Audiences laughed and cried at the biggest rang of content in the comedy, drama and musical sections and Thestival swept the board at the HSU Theatre awards and was nominated for the Hallam Union awards.
In 2017, we saw 11 fantastic directors and 3 amazing producers in Lucy SJ, Christie Ivens & Becky Cleary. Bringing back thestival for it's 4th turn with such diverse performances of over 50 incredible cast members. On opening night our Marketing co-ordinator Rachael Brittain, with the help of Ben Poole brought us an emotionally hitting original play following the story of sex trafficking in '27 Million' which was followed by an innovative 'Musicals through the ages' compilation brought to us by Joe Singer & Annie Bolstridge. Friday night saw an adaptation of the hit show Crazy Ex Girlfriend in 'Textmergency' by Joe Shallow. Followed shortly after by a fear themed group of both original and adapted scenes in 2017s 'Drama Section' showing a wonderful directing debut from Joseph Hanley with the assistance of social sec Scott Gist.