Introducing VETO: Talented Students Boosting Lancaster’s Arts Scene

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University provides the perfect opportunity for people with similar interests to come together and create things. Formed last year, VETO, a student production company, are the perfect example of this. They staged their first play last year, Helter Skelter, by Mike Narouei. Based on the Charles Manson murders, the play was a confident debut for the company. This year it will be followed by two more original plays: The Two Minds of Socrates, in November, and Towers, in 2018. I spoke to Mike, a second-year theatre student, and member of VETO, to learn more about them, and their plans for their second year.

Hi Mike, why did you guys decide to form VETO?

“We originally all met through LUTG, and our original play (Helter Skelter) was rejected in the selection process, so after we heard about not getting through we went back home to mourn our play, and then ended up deciding to produce it ourselves. We thought it would be easier than it was but it turned out to be a steep learning curve. We had to produce it ourselves, and relied on support from our friends and family. But because of the success of Helter Skelter, we are in the position where we can put on two more shows this year.”

What is your first show of the year, The Two Minds of Socrates, about?

“The Two Minds of Socrates is set the night before Socrates’s trial. Based on Plato’s Apology, it is written by Walker Zupp, a masters student. It follows Socrates going through his entire trial in his cell and debating with his subconscious. It is a fun, complicated, and entertaining play. We have one month to rehearse it, and build the set which is very large, but ultimately our main focus is on it being entertaining.”

And after that you’re tackling 9/11 in your play Towers, how is that show going so far?

“Towers has a much larger team and is much more ambitious. Half of the cast is in place, and we will be holding open auditions to fill the rest of the roles. The play follows a group of people trapped on one of the levels of the North Tower. It explores the psychology of being faced with death and how that forces them to work together and interact with their past. It’s going to be staged at the Storey or the Nuffield and will be performed in real time with no interval, which is difficult for actors but provides the audience with a really immersive experience.”

You wrote Helter Skelter, and you are writing Towers as well, how has your writing process developed?

“Helter Skelter was very quick. It only took me two weeks to write the first draft. Towers has been a much longer process, a much longer development, it’s now on its final draft after four months and I’m still writing it.”

The cast of Helter Skelter. Image courtesy of VETO

Lots of different companies have different rehearsal processes, how does VETO’s rehearsal period work?

“I would say our rehearsal process is based on an engagement between the director and the writers. The director will lead most of the process and then the writer will chip in with ideas. I see the process for Towers as like yoga, a relaxed slow building of the play that starts with the actors. The way VETO works is the actors do a lot of the work themselves because they bring their own creativity.”

Apart from your two plays, do you have any other plans for the year?

“We are hoping to make a film, either short or feature length, because we are a production company not just a theatre company, so film is something we do as well. We also run workshops with local schools and we are hoping to expand this by putting on a yearlong project in a school. We are also building up to our third-year next year, which will be our biggest year yet.”

The Two Minds of Socrates will be performed November 3rd & 4th at The Storey and will be reviewed in a later edition of Carolynne. Towers will premiere in 2018.

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