It’s time to produce another theatrical show! I’ve decided after 5 years break to produce a full length play again. Many people don’t know what community theatre, or amateur theatre as it is also called, means and what goes on behind the scenes.
With posting on this blog under the “theatre” category I want to take you on the journey with me of directing a play for a local community theatre. I have many reasons and goals for doing this:
Increase awareness about local and community theatre
Educate people about the many roles that need to be filled when doing a show
Perhaps enticing the one or other to also take part in whatever way next time their local theatre puts a production together
Creating awareness about my particular show in the local community and amongst the people I know in order to sell more tickets
Let readers peep behind the scenes and follow the journey
Where do we start? I guess the beginning is always a good start 🙂
Deciding to direct a play
I’ve been involved in amateur dramatics since 1995, first overseas in Austria and then in Cape Town at the Masque theatre and since 2002 at the Playhouse in Somerset West. There isn’t a role I haven’t filled when it comes to a production, from sweeping the theatre floor, to operating lights, performing, directing and the myriads of other jobs necessary. It is thus that I know what an intense involvement and commitment directing a play takes.
Being a single mom running a business doesn’t leave much time for theatrical endeavours and apart from the occasional stage appearance in usually small parts, and directing a short run of a German sketch evening, I have kept my creative involvement to a minimum.
I’ve always been engaged in the managing activities of shows and the theatre itself by helping out Front of House but directing a show is a different beast altogether because as a director in an amateur production you’re responsible for basically everything.
But you can withhold your internal flame only so long and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a show again as soon as I would find a script/play that grabs me. That has now happened.
Choosing a play
Since this is going to be an amateur production it means I’m not going to be paid (or anyone else involved) so in order to produce a successful show I better make sure I really enjoy the play. I tend to go for the drama’s and mysteries, cleverly put together plots that leave the audience guessing till the end or heavily involved in the shenanigans on stage.
About a year ago I happened to watch the movie “Sleuth” which turned out to be a 2007 remake of a much older movie made in 1972 which in turn were both based on a Tony award winning play “Sleuth” by Anthony Shaffer. I loved the movie and when I found out it is based on a play my antenna was on, this looked like an interesting proposition indeed.
Searching the internet up and down I found that most people preferred the original film version as it was closer to the script but unfortunately the movie was nowhere to be found. I left it at that but truth be told, it didn’t leave me. I kept thinking of it and how I liked the many twists and turns of the story. Then a few months ago I started the search again and found that someone in Russia had uploaded the entire 1972 movie version to YouTube and after watching this I was totally hooked.
I also agreed that this version was much better than the modern remake. Fate was decided, this was going to be the show I wanted to produce.
Finding the script
You need to secure the performing rights and obtain the script to be able to produce a show. In South Africa this is done via an organisation called Dalro. From their library I was able to take out the script and read it. I loved it even more.
In the meantime I have started to talk to any male actor I come across who looks like they could possible fill one of the two lead male roles and the responses have been very good. Those two parts are some truly amazing parts and while a serious amount of lines will have to be memorised, those are two special characters who dive deep into their psyche and dark side. A challenge any good actor will be willing to take on.
Preparing the script
Once I decided to direct this show at some point I started preparing it. Everyone has their own system, mine involves copying the script and glueing each page to the left page of a counter book, leaving the right page open for scribblings during rehearsal.
Since this particular play involves a lot of props and technical cues, I started to put a sort of script skeleton together. In essence I dissect the entire thing and put down page per page what is happening, the key points, what the major blocking is (how the actors need to move), any props being handled and all the special effects (light or sound cues for example).
This will help me later on when it’s time to time and pace the entire play and also when I quickly need to know what’s going to happen when.
Proposing the play for performance at the Playhouse in Somerset West
In June this year the annual “Director’s Forum” was hosted by the Playhouse Theatre in Somerset West, my home town theatre. Everyone who wishes to produce a production at the theatre in the next season (2014) is invited to bring their proposal forward.
It was an exciting day with many talented actors putting proposals forward and the season looks very interesting and intriguing with a good mix of different genres of performances. Turns out mine is the only thriller proposed so I guess my chances of getting a slot are pretty high – after all, I think there should always be at least one thriller in a theatre season 🙂
Until the theatre has decided when my slot is going to be I’m busy with further preparations. For example I need to find a seriously good prop mistress who will source and handle all the (many) props in this show as well as the set building crew, who will put this intricate set with a double story structure and a featured staircase together. I have started to talk to certain individuals whose creativity I hope I can engage for this production but there are many crew members still needed. Keep a watch on this blog as I am going to post the progress.
If you are interested in any way to be involved in this production (or any other), actively on or off stage, helping to market it, even helping serve coffee during interval or passively just watching it, please simply contact me and I’ll be in touch with you.