You can be part of this.
It’s a great buzz to be in a group of diverse people with diverse talents working together to create a work of art.
If you are experienced, you know this. Join us.
If you aren’t, this is where you can get that experience.
We have five to seven full productions each year and one or two one-night stands. Casts range from two to twenty, crew four to ten, and with many more people in pre-production. This takes a lot of people. There is a place for you in the theatre.
All ages, all sexes, all physical types. Many productions need bit-parts and non-speaking toles. Start your career with those.
Turn up for an audition. Do what the director says. Sometimes the director will ask you if you have a prepared piece. If so, present it. Nearly always you will be given a few pages of the play and asked to read one of the parts. Often the director will ask you to change the way you present the part. If you can take direction (that’s what it is called) you can take nearly any role. This year The Housemaid or Second Policeman. In years to come, Hedda Gabler or Hercule Poirot. If you can’t take direction your roles will be more limited, but they are there.
If you don’t think you are up to a full season (many weeks or rehearsals, two or three per week, and 18 two-hour performances before an audience) you can try it out at Subscribers’ Night, short pieces, few rehearsals and only two performances. If you don’t know whether you can take direction or not, this is where to find out.
But what’s this “take direction?
TITANIA: What, jealous Oberon!
DIRECTOR: No, No, his name isn’t Jealous Oberon. You are accusing him of being jealous. Taunt him.
TITANIA: What jealous, Oberon?
If you can taunt him, you can take direction.
The Men (and Women) in Black. Without them nothing happens.
Start with shifting scenery. Perhaps take charge of the properties (the bits and pieces the actors carry on stage), sometimes a very demanding job; if the actor has to comment on something in the newspaper and there’s no newspaper there, the whole scene is lost.
Eventually, after sufficient shows as Assistant Stage Manager, ASM, you can become the full SM. It’s the Stage Manager who runs the show, who makes sure everything and everything is in place, who says “Go” and “Stop”. During a run the SM is in total command. You thought it was the Director? No, the director is responsible for the overall design of the show, but the SM is the one who makes it happen.
Set Design and Construction:
Our sets range from a few boxes and screens on an otherwise empty stage, through an agonisingly detailed depiction of a period interior to a soaring architectural fantasy.
Our sets are always impressive. They are a crucial part of the whole theatrical experience.
No experience in building things? You always hit the wrong nail with the hammer? Not a problem. We don’t use nails. (We use screws so we can take the sets apart easily).
You are a craftsman, proud of your competence? Join us and do the nasty things you’d never dream of doing in real life. Discover all the sins that can be covered up with masking tape and a coat of black paint.
And then there’s set design. It’s a demanding job both artistically and technically. Work with the director to achieve the ambiance he wants, then work out how to build it.
Lighting and Sound Operators:
All those knobs and levers. Lord it over the whole theatre, audience and all. Crucial and often demanding tasks where technical prowess and artistic sensibility come together.
The technical aspects of a theatrical production are lights and sound. For each we need designers and operators.
The main purpose of lights is to ensure the actors can be seen. But there’s much more to it than that. Lighting can indicate time of day, weather, change of scene, mood of protagonists, or just pretty lighting effects. All these must be designed in close collaboration with the director. All need an operator in close collaboration with the stage manager, paying attention to the script and the action on stage.
Ours is a small theatre with good acoustics, so we don’t rely on sound techniques just to hear the actors, but we rely on sound to do the everything else that lighting does using both music and sound effects. Again we have designers and operators.
We get directors from all over, but we also grow our own. Members can direct short pieces for Subscribers’ Night and nearly every year one of them gets their first full production.
The director of a show is the Creative Genius (or Self-indulgent Pratt, they are often the same thing) who is responsible for everything the audience sees and hears.
Directing is a lot of hard work. Don’t try it until you really, really, know what you are letting yourself in for. Planning for a full production begins a year or more before opening night and takes over your whole life.
I haven’t managed to dissuade you? How do you get there? To be a director, first you have to be directed. Act, prompt, operate, shift scenery, design and build. Watch other directors work, see what they do and don’t do. Judge how successful they are in how their productions work out. (Of course there are books and university courses on directing and, while they help, they are, for us, not a prerequisite.)
Then volunteer to direct for Subscribers’ Night. Subs’ Night is a sort of audition for directors. You choose a piece, you audition actors (together with all the other Subs’ Night directors, so you might not get your first pick), you rehearse them and present them at the one or two Subscriber Night performances.
Costume design and production:
We don’t normally make our own costumes. Perhaps it’s time we did. Persuade us.
Front of House:
Sell tickets, show patrons to their seats, serve tea and coffee, watch most of the show, join cast and crew after the show for drinks and supper.