Friday, 10 February 2012

Reflecting and planning....

As most of you probably know by now, my main hobby is drama. That, for me, encompasses every aspect associated with an amateur dramatic society. I enjoy and have done in the past: acting, directing, set building, set painting/decorating, finding props, prompting, stage managing, Front-of-house duties, car park duties, secretarial duties, publicity officer duties, cleaning. As my husband and I also run the two separate Junior & Youth sections of our particular society, we are never short of something to do related to our theatre. Particularly as the theatre we use is purpose built and held in trust for us as a society, we are also responsible for the maintenance and general upkeep of the building itself. Having recently had a great run for our last production in January ("A Night On The Tiles" by Frank Vickery - the title is a link to Frank Vickery's production page) and everyone thoroughly enjoying the show (cast and audience members), it is now that I start to reflect on past plays - particularly when I am directing the May one and am now in the process of reading many plays in order to find a suitable one. In case you are wondering, "suitable" in this case means a number of factors need to be taken into account. Based on past experience, we always give new members relatively small parts. The play I choose has to be one that I love, not just like, but also one that the cast love as well. Having people perform in something they are not 100% happy with is such a hard task for a director, with little reward. A comedy would be preferred, since our audience almost demand it, and love to leave the theatre with a smile on their faces - it also helps during the rehearsal process, too, if we can laugh at the jokes in the play. Cast-wise I am limited to 2 men (ages approximately 30 and 45, though slight alteration either way can be achieved if the play is good) and 3 or 4 women. I say 3 or 4 because, although I have 4 women available and keen to act in a play, if I cast them all, then I will have no-one left to prompt. Despite the fact that not one prompt was given during the last production and we try to aim for that every time, we still like to have the "safety net" there should we require! The women are all young - late teens to early 30s, and any of them could play those ages, but nothing over the age of 35 without being heavily made up and suitably "wigged" !

I have bought 6 plays (two of which were 2-in-one), read a further 6 and plan to read at least 2 more from a short-list I made based on the cast available. I've also held a play-reading recently just for fun, and to initially assess the ability of our newest member. Sometimes, new members turn up and simply cannot read, so we can never assume. Fortunately, we had no problems at all with the latest one. The play we read this week was "Black Comedy" by Peter Schaffer. This is the first play I directed at BADS, and I remember the time very fondly. It is a shame we can't perform it again, but we simply do not have enough people to do all the parts and take on back-stage roles as well.

I will need to make a trip to the library in Hull for 2 more from my list, then it's back to the drawing board, I'm afraid. I don't want to do a play that is just OK, it has to really grab my attention. At the same time, Keith and I are currently scouting for plays that the Junior and Youth sections can perform in July - this seems a long time off, but past experience has shown that we need plenty of time to organise this, as no doubt changes will occur along the way as children drop out/ become ill/change their minds about being in a play etc etc.  We've so far read or are about to read 5 plays for the Juniors. In some ways, they are easier to cast, since there are lots of plays for younger children with large casts that we can easily cut down. The Youth are a bit more fussy about what they like, however, or have great ideas about doing plays by "devising". Perhaps they can do this at school or college, since they obviously spend more time in their lessons than the one and a half hour we can give them each week. Devising a play takes a lot of dedication and attendance from everyone at all times, which is never going to happen with a group of teenagers who would sometimes rather just be hanging out with their mates or playing computer games! I know they're not all like that, and in the main we do have a great group of children, it's just that their priorities lie elsewhere - they can't be expected to be as committed as we are to the production of a play, yet we still try to instil that attitude in them from a young age.

Until my search ends, and we have found plays for all three sections of our society, here are some photos of the set from our last production (which got a round of applause all of its own each night as the curtains opened) and a few taken at the after-play party which Nikki and Mike hosted!

Amy as "Mary" in the game....

Andy as "Abraham".....

Josh as "Joshua".....

Mike as "Jesus" - a name he rather likes the sound of!

Nikki as "Noah"

Scott as "Samson".
The game we were playing involved remembering your "name" (it had to be a biblical one) and that of everyone else in the room. If you failed to ask the question correctly (even if you got one word wrong) you then received a black mark on your face. As I was driving and therefore not in the slightest bit drunk that evening, I went home without a mark on my face! A very funny game!

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