Wow! Is it really November? Already? I must have lost track of time wandering in the enchanted wood! It seems to have been non-stop over the past few months so I’m sorry that the blog has taken a bit of a hit! It’s been exciting and frustrating and full-on at the same time and I seriously need a holiday. But hey! There’s always Christmas right? Oh no! I mentioned the ‘C’ word! Mind you, you can’t escape it now that we’re into November and I really must start doing something about it. Another thing to add to the ‘to do’ list!
We seem to be reasonably organised on the ‘Dear Brutus’ front but we had our share of setbacks and speedbumps early on with a bit of cast reshuffling and rehearsal venue changing. However, we’ve been rehearsing regularly for a couple of months now and all is going well. Everybody seems to be having fun and there are some fantastic characters developing. We’re well on the way to being off books by Christmas! The set has been designed based on re-use of the flats we built for ‘Elephants’ and Dad is preparing to start work on it. We’ve also discussed the extra bits and pieces we need to bring in with John Urquart. We’ve organised costumes and taken measurements. We have a props list and already have most of the props and furniture. Our flyers are printed and our posters are on the way and we’ve spoken to the theatre about lighting and cloth bars and set and get-ins and get-outs. We’ve got Mike Pendlowski organising our lighting, Neil French on sound and Rene Hogg as Stage Manager along with her wonderful crew. Liz Landsman is helping us organise costumes and Gillian Robertson is our props organiser during the show. Tickets are on sale and what we really have to worry about now is getting an audience to make all the hard work worthwhile! Whilst our move to a bigger venue is a blessing in some ways, and we’re delighted that it’s now easier for our disabled friends to come and watch us, we do now have a massive number of seats to fill! Plays are generally a harder sell than musicals but I’m hoping that the magic of J.M. Barrie will be a New Year treat for Edinburgh audiences.
I’m constantly trying to think of new ways to market the show and it always feels like an uphill struggle. With such a small cast compared to some of the other amateur companies, even if they all liked and shared on Facebook or Twitter (which some of them don’t – cast take note), then our reach on social media is still pretty poor. Constantly ‘boosting’ our posts to reach a wider audience costs money that we really don’t have in the budget. Paper advertising just doesn’t give you the return these days and advertising in other programmes is also costly unless you have a reciprocal arrangement with the other company.
I tried to contact the Lyceum this year to enquire about advertising in their Christmas show programme which would have been the perfect audience for us given that their show is J.M. Barrie's classic ‘Wendy and Peter Pan’. Unfortunately the reply was short and to the point stating that they don’t have advertising in their programme. This will not stop me from standing outside their door handing out flyers however!
We’ll try to organise postering sessions with the cast (combined with Christmas pub visits), which is standard amateur theatre marketing strategy – so if anybody wants to join us then please let us know!!
We’re also trying to get together material for the programme, which shouldn’t be too difficult a task as there is such a huge wealth of information out there on J.M. Barrie. When you start doing a bit of research you really can get sucked down a rabbit hole and just delve deeper and deeper. He was a hugely interesting man and there are so many questions that are still unanswered about his life and the lives of those around him. We’ve recently been looking at Gerald du Maurier who played many of the leading roles in Barrie’s plays (Including Mr Dearth in ‘Dear Brutus’) and his famous daughter Daphne who we believe may have been the inspiration for Margaret in the play. There’s also a really interesting connection between Barrie and George Bernard Shaw who wrote ‘Pygmalion’. With our lovely Rebekah taking on the role of Eliza in the King’s in March, it was great to discover that Barrie and Shaw were great friends and Shaw appeared in more than one of Barrie’s crude early movie experiments, now sadly lost.