Despite being a show focusing on a 1990s historical flashpoint, the shows focus on the value of friendship, telling audiences to embrace life and pursue it to the fullest through its pervasive message of ‘no day but today’, RENT is a show that will never lose its relevance. 

When we were deciding on our shows for the year as an exec, I pushed so hard to have RENT in our programme for the year, because as well as the show having such an important message, there is so much creative licence to sink your teeth into as a director, and the challenge of condensing the cast size to 10 people was a great opportunity to focus an even greater spotlight on the group of friends this show follows, creating even more concentrated characterisations. I hope the audience becomes just as invested in these characters and relationships as we have, as the time, energy and the cast and creative team have put into creating a cast whose connection and troupe mentality transcends the characters they play on stage.

I came into this process with a very clear creative vision but little did I know my vision could be completed, enhanced and improved in ways I couldn’t have dreamed or thought of, but it has been all thanks to Jacob, who came in just as passionate and headstrong, and together we’re so excited to share our creative baby, and that those that know us will be able to see a bit of our personalities in what we’ve done. 

I didn’t know what navigating the Co-Directing dynamic was going to be like, but I can hand on heart say I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with than Jacob, directing with my best friend has been an experience I’ll never forget, and will treasure as one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had. They have taught me so much and every note and direction has given me something to learn from. I cannot wait to work on more shows with them… I know there will be many, and I am so proud of what we’ve managed to achieve together. 

Special praise must be given to the dynamic duo MDs Josh and Freya who, assisted by Hannah, have blown us all away with the standard this cast has managed to reach. Also Ayasha, our wonderful producer without whom you probably wouldn’t have thought to but tickets for this show. Finally, our dynamite cast, who have made this team into the family that it is, whilst executing our every will to a T, combining to create a collective that is one of the strongest I’ve ever worked with. 

So please sit back and enjoy the emotional rollercoaster that is RENT, we hope you laugh, cry, smile and weep as much as we will be.

 By Emily Phillips

RENT’s universal themes of friendship and love, interwoven with tragedy and injustice are ideas that are still very relevant in mainstream media and the modern day, directing a show centred around these has been eye opening and a dream come true. 

RENT has been a favourite show of mine since I sang Seasons of Love with my choir aged 11, cliché I know, since then the soundtrack has always been in my Spotify recently played and my love for the show has only grown. Being my first time directing a musical in Durham, RENT has taught me so much about technique, organisation, intention and truth. It has allowed to my grow as a director and explore storylines and queer love. RENT is a breath of fresh air, from a queer perspective, where all the characters are not ashamed of themselves, which is something so rare in media, queer characters loving and embracing who they are. It has ben joyous building this self love on the stage and exploring and discussing this with the cast. 

I have learnt so much during this production and a large part has been down to my Co-Director, Emily. It has been a dream to work with my best friend and DST sister on a show we care so much about. Coming into this, I had such a clear creative vision, and working with Emily, combining our ideas and discussing them has been a dream. She has helped me grow as a director and as a performer and I could not have asked to share this experience with anyone else, she truly is the best, and most busy, person I know! So I also want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to her <3

The cast and crew for this show have been phenomenal and put in so much time and effort to bring 90’s New York alphabet city to Durham’s Assembly Rooms theatre, so I invite you to relax, laugh, cry as we explore Bohemia and ask you to jump over the moon with us ;)) x 

By Jacob Vellucci

RENT is performing at the Assembly Rooms Theatre from 23th to 25th Februrary

Photo Credits: TDTC