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Wednesday, 27 January 2016 09:17

Challenges met become rewards

Ingrid in CasablancaIngrid filming 'Casablanca'Part of the beauty of doing theatre is that every show presents its own unique challenges and problems, and that although in the beginning one doesn’t yet know how they will be met and solved, one knows that by curtain-up, they will have been. Challenges met become rewards.

At the start of the production period of this stage reading of Ingrid, I as the director had three good actors and one good story. All good so far. However, somewhat more challengingly, two of these good actors were to play the parts of eight men important and influential in the protagonist’s life. Figuring out how to block this was my problem, and it had me playing with paper dollies (three marked "Christian" + another name, four marked "Daniel" + another name) over Epiphany. Finding the solution felt like winning a Tetris jackpot.

The main difference between a stage reading and a full production is that in a stage reading, actors do not commit their lines to memory – which means a shorter production period. Stage readings are also ever-so-slightly less "official" than full productions, so renting a theatre is not an absolute must for putting one on. The shorter production period and minimum costs make it possible for us to put on more than one or two shows a year, even if only for one performance. However, turning what is essentially a classroom in a language centre into an atmospheric performance space obviously presents some problems. I have totally loved the way we as a group came up with solutions to these problems, by using to our benefit features of our somewhat unusual premises, rather than being held back by them. I’ve had great fun with Ingrid – it’s been a highly rewarding challenge, and I’m really pleased with and proud of what we’ve achieved. Here’s looking at you, kids... oh no, wait, that’s not my line.

Saturday, 12 September 2015 11:43

Rita Wuz 'Ere

RitaRita **Next week, we are bringing to our audience the first in our planned series of stage readings: Educating Rita. Stage readings are put together in a matter of weeks rather than months, and have little external frills such as stage set, props, or costumes. Indeed, in stage readings, the actors don’t even memorise lines – but this doesn’t mean we don’t work hard at doing justice to the text and the characters. As always, it’s a case of getting inside their skin, discovering who they are, looking hard at what you share with them and how you are different.

Meet Rita:
She is twenty-six, a Scouser*, and a hairdresser. She talks a lot, she is cocky, she is ballsy. She has little schooling, but she has guts – or should one say, sisu. 
Meet me:
I am not twenty-six, a Scouser, or a hairdresser. However, I do talk a lot, am cocky, ballsy, have guts – sisu! – and, until quite recently indeed, had little schooling. Apart from the first three, we’re quite similar, no? I feel I know and understand the process she goes through, and besides, I find her fun and funny. Come and meet her next Saturday, and see what you think of her.

 

Scousers are people speaking the very heavy dialect of Merseyside in North-West England, and are particularly associated with Liverpool. The Beatles were originally Scousers.

** Please note that the RStC reserves the right to replace the likeness of 'Rita' with that of another actress.

Monday, 16 March 2015 10:30

Becoming Mrs Vicar

Susan, 'Bed Among the Lentils'Susan, 'Bed Among the Lentils'

My part of The Really Small Reminiscences is the monologue of Susan, or Bed Among the Lentils. I am very fond of Susan: on the outside, she is a drab little mouse of a vicar’s wife, who apparently does and has done little to take charge of her own life. Behind the “cut-out-for-God” surface, however, Susan has the knack of spotting and describing in a piercingly-sharp fashion the idiosyncrasies and downright ludicrousness of people – most unusually, herself included. And as we will discover as her story unfolds, her verbal rebellion grows into her daring to break away from various roles that have confined her, and becoming the subject rather than the object of her own life.

On the surface level, it might appear that I don’t share a great deal with Susan. However, my firm belief is that we all carry within us every human possibility, and so, to create a character, one needs to dig deep inside oneself to— where the given character’s qualities reside. A hard enough task, to be sure, but just between me and you, gentle Reader: I haven’t had to dig all that deep to discover my personal Susan. Now, it’s more of a case of bringing her out, shaping her, making her live and breathe – of becoming Mrs. Vicar. This is where the real work lies…

After seventeen years of stagework, this is my first experience of doing a monologue play. It is also my first time onstage with RStC, but not with the gang involved in the production. Most notably, my history with Joan (directing) goes back sixteen years, when she directed me in my second-ever production, in the role of a young lad in Edward Bond’s The Sea. Since those ancient days of yore, all of us involved in this production have worked together many times and in different combinations. The long-term friendships and mutual trust are really the prerequisites for taking on a huge challenge such as doing justice to Bennett’s wonderful, witty, wistful script. I’m loving getting my teeth into this.