'We can't wait' - students to stage Jane Austen classic at Ickworth

Harry Ferguson and Nell Hammond will star in an outdoor production of Emma at Ickworth

Harry Ferguson and Nell Hammond will star in Conservatoire East at West Suffolk College's outdoor production of Emma at Ickworth - Credit: Erica Dupuy

'Excited' students are bringing Jane Austen classic Emma to Ickworth near Bury St Edmunds - in their first live performance for more than a year.

The new production, adapted by Michael Bloom, will run from May 19 to 22 at the National Trust site. It will star students from Conservatoire East, which offers performing arts training at West Suffolk College.

The performance will be outside, with Covid-safe measures in place - and the cast and crew can't wait.

Nell Hammond will play the title role of Emma in a new production at Ickworth 

Nell Hammond will play the title role of Emma in a new production at Ickworth - Credit: West Suffolk College

Nell Hammond, 18, from Wetherden, will play the lead role of Emma in the tale of romantic mishaps, misunderstandings and marriage.

She said: “It’s a really interesting play and it will be great escapism for people to transport themselves back to Regency England for a day, thanks to the immersive show and amazing backdrop of the main house at Ickworth Park.”

Harry Ferguson, 19, from Newmarket, will be playing George Knightley.

He said: “Being on the stage makes me come alive and all of the cast can’t wait for the show to start.

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"A lot of people have been waiting a long time for live theatre to return and I’m getting an adrenaline rush just thinking about the opening night.”

Harry Ferguson will play George Knightley in Emma at Ickworth

Harry Ferguson will play George Knightley in Emma at Ickworth - Credit: West Suffolk College

Co-director Erica Dupuy said: “This will be the first time that students will have been able to perform in over a year.

"I can’t put into words how exciting it will be for them to get those reactions from the audience and hear the applause.

“I believe we have created an innovative production that is quite traditional, yet it has a few modern spins. It’s a lovely story and it’s going to look beautiful thanks to our amazing location.

"The audience will be sat outside as the sun comes down, watching live theatre created by the acting talent of the future.

"This has been a long time coming and we can’t wait for people to see it.”

Tickets are £13 and picnics produced by the college restaurant Edmunds and students on the West Suffolk Culinary Arts School courses are available to book in advance.

Next up for Conservatoire East and West Suffolk College is a production of We Will Rock You, at the college from May 26 to 29.

For full information and to book tickets for Emma, visit the Conservatoire East website.

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