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Life’s stage: exits and entrances

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“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…”

Jaques to Duke Senior in As you like it
William Shakespeare 

shakespeare theatre

I’m not sure if it was fate or synchronicity. I had recently moved to Leipzig and discovered Gareth Knapman and Claudia Jessat in my quest to find like-minded thespians.

Arrangements had been made to meet Gareth to discuss perhaps leading a course, and to definitely participate in his upcoming production by Tennessee Williams. I was super excited that I had been able to find an English speaking company within the first few weeks of my being here and had really good vibes about it all.

Claudia Jessat in UBI's FEEL! Juli 2013 during Leipzig Street Theatre Festival
Claudia Jessat in UBI’s FEEL!, July 2013, during Leipzig Street Theatre Festival

When the day arrived for us to meet, some horrid virus decided to raise its ugly head. Hence, there was no way I could participate in a workshop. Somehow, a combination of determination and drama school discipline made me stagger to the studio, solely to introduce myself and inform them how ill I was.

I will never forget the look on Gareth’s and Claudia’s face!

I’m unsure if they thought this green-faced wreck was crazy or just stunned that I had come to say I wasn’t coming. Either way, they were both adorable, and Claudia proceeded to update me on her also disastrous day as if we had known each other for years.

And that was it. We became fast friends from that moment on and I have no doubts it was “meant to be”.

However, I soon learned how ill Gareth was. He was so young and with so much to offer. My heart was pained for his family and Claudia.

Death took him much too early, I am sure.

Gareth working with teens
Gareth working with teens

Gareth created Ubiquity Theatre Company in Birmingham, UK, in 2002. In 2005, Gareth and Ubiquity moved to Leipzig and this bilingual theatre company began its journey: running courses and producing plays, in both English and German.

In 2012, Gareth was joined by Claudia as company partner, and all was well in the World of Ubiquity until the terribly sad passing of Gareth earlier this year.

Ubiquity Theatre Company, now solely owned by Claudia, had no choice but to evolve.

Its name changed to UBI Theatre Leipzig, and it was in need of a new theatre practitioner with English as mother tongue. There I was; available and qualified. So Claudia asked me to take over the English courses.

I shall not lie. It was strange, at first, following in Gareth’s footsteps. He was a very talented guy, full of passion for his art and love for his Ubiquity Theatre. I struggled. It was truly bittersweet, and I felt deeply uncomfortable for a while.

But life… you know, life happens. You keep on moving, and the reality is, of course, that it is a gift to be given the opportunity to continue someone’s dream.  It is humbling and I am very grateful .

I have studied acting and performed in plays nearly all my life, ergo I got my BA (hons) in Acting, from Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance, London. Theatre is my passion. It is in my blood.

I find it so beautiful that actors are able to bring words on a page alive with truth and such incredible intention. It is a three dimensional experience that film, however wonderful, simply cannot offer.

There is something truly magical about the exchange of energy between actors and audience – you can almost touch it, making it become almost actually tangible.

Monday night rehearsals for upcoming UBI Theatre Company production "In the jungle"
Monday night rehearsals for upcoming UBI Theatre Company production “In the jungle”

My love for theatre runs deep.

I hope that I can honour Gareth’s memory by producing some work he would have been really proud of.

Please come along! As participant, audience… or both!

It would be fantastic…

Written by Laura Shann


Upcoming play: “In the Jungle” (1-5 Feb 2017) – Info

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