I can hardly believe it’s almost December! Around about now children everywhere are posting their letters to Santa or probably emailing/Facebooking/Instagramming/Whatsapping him in our digital age. Personally, I prefer the idea of writing the letter and then putting it on the fire to miraculously arrive with him completely fresh and un-singed via the chimney (but I’m old fashioned like that). I digress... The clock is ticking on our production and we’re ramping up on the preparation in both the performance and technical aspects, so there are a few things I’m sure Santa could help me with (you’re never too old to send a letter to Santa, right?). We’ve been doing everything from choosing wallpaper for the set (yes, we have that wallpapering job to look forward to) to heading to the recycling centre to rake around for an old telly! Everybody is pitching in and rehearsals are really getting quite intense now too as we all try to get off book. The sheer quantity of dialogue is quite overwhelming – particularly to those of us used to bursting into song every five minutes! It’s slowly coming together though and prompting is required less and less with every run. Only 3 more rehearsals to go before the Christmas break, so no time to relax! No 1 on my letter to Santa…Make the words stay in my head and come out of my mouth at the right time!
We’ve also been doing some serious preparation for an exciting cast announcement. I’m not giving anything away, but in a couple of weeks we’ll have some fun news to share with you all, so watch out on all the social media channels. The programme is another thing that we’re already thinking about and finding time to chase advertisers, write a welcome message, write and edit biographies, design graphics, develop content and organise photos is a bit of a nightmare, along with the day job, Christmas shopping and life in general. As you can see it’s busy, busy, busy, so you’ll have to forgive me if I get a bit behind with the blogs and social media posts - but there’s lots of good stuff amongst the madness! No. 2 on my letter to Santa...An extra day in the week!
One of my favourite experiences as a Director to date has been watching the cast grow as performers. A good example was when I asked one of the young cast members to do a particular action that would just give her character a bit more of a sinister edge. I was then delighted when she not only did that action but then carried on the theme adding in odd subtle touches of her own to her performance that really caught what I was trying to get across. It showed not only a great understanding of her character but an understanding of what I was asking - and there is no better feeling as a Director than when your cast ‘get it’! I’m certainly learning a lot with this first production and anybody who tries to tell you it’s easy has obviously never tried it! Running a theatre company – even one as small as ours - is a lot of hard work, but there are lots of little triumphs along the way. When I look back at all we’ve achieved so far and how well it’s all coming together I feel quietly proud. So the final thing on my Christmas list?...An audience to come and see all our hard work! Thank you to those who have already bought tickets – I know you won’t be disappointed! If you haven’t got yours yet then please do get your order in and come and support us. We’re nothing without an audience! P.s. Santa – there’s an extra mince pie in it for you if you tick off everything on the list!
It's been a busy couple of weeks but I finally managed to get back to the computer for the next blog instalment. We did a photoshoot for 'Elephants' last weekend at our house and because the show is set at Christmas, Ross and I spent most of Friday and Saturday pulling our Christmas decorations out of the loft and putting them up all over the house. Thankfully the neighbours and the postie already know we're mad so I'm sure that Christmas decorations at the beginning of November didn't surprise them in the slightest! The photoshoot went brilliantly and we got some fantastic shots for our programme and marketing campaign. At our rehearsal on Thursday I remembered that I had signed the Company up for the Twitter campaign #LoveTheatreDay in association with The Stage magazine. The idea is that everybody with a love of theatre, or a job in theatre, or an actual theatre building or company can sign up and spend the day sharing posts about what they do and why they love it. I decided to get the cast to each do a short video - just a couple of sentences - about why they love theatre. Of course when you ask anybody to do something like that at short notice and you sit them in front of the camera and press the record button you have no idea what's going to happen - and most of the time they don't have much idea either. We got some hilarious moments and some of the outtakes are better than the 'official' videos. They were all at least brave enough to do it spontaneously in front of each other, whereas I chickened out and said I'd do mine at home. I then had to think of what I was going to say of course, but the last couple of weeks really answered that question for me and reminded me of one of the main reasons why I love theatre. Obviously I love going to see theatre and for around two and half hours being transported into a different world and escaping from whatever kind of rubbish day I might have had. Theatre does something that television never can and involves all your senses. As a performer I love getting the opportunity to play such a wonderful variety of characters and acting on stage in ways that I would never dream of in real life, or expressing emotions freely and sometimes to extremes. Of course there is also nothing like that feeling of drawing an audience in and making them feel it all with you. To make an audience laugh or cry and take them on an emotional journey with you is one of the best feelings in the world. As a Director, planning how I'm going to help the actors and production team make that happen and working with them developing the best possible show is something I'm also growing to love. Hopefully our finished product will do everything we've planned. However, although the show and its success is the ultimate aim of everybody involved, I find that one of the best things about any company or production is the close bonds you develop with the other members of the cast in the weeks and months leading up to the show. That's why so many people talk about their 'theatre family' or their 'show family' and I think its something that only theatre people really understand. When we did the photo shoot at the weekend we made a day of it. We had great fun! We all ate together, laughed together (with and at each other), made idiots of ourselves in front of the camera, shared ideas and stories and it was a fantastic 'family' experience. Rehearsals have been that way too with birthday cakes, celebrations, encouragement of cast members for other auditions and most recently the #LoveTheatreDay videos. So why do I love theatre? I love everything about being in an audience, being on stage and being back stage, but more than that I love my 'theatre family' and my own little 'Elephants family' in particular!