Directors Blog: A Monstrous Production

Good Evening Folks!

So, last weeks blog was a little bit of a monster (pun totally intended), which is good because this week I am full of cold and there is a lemsip and a duvet waiting for me when I finish this short and sweet post.

The M Word…

As a local community theatre company… Ok, Amateur… I hate that word because actually as a group we aim to put high standard shows on and although we are not professionals we strive to achieve the same standard (rant over…).  We do this because we enjoy putting on great shows which we hope the public will enjoy. This is something we can only do if the public know we’re performing. Which is why marketing is so important. It’s a big job, which is why we have 3 marketing positions on our committee – A Coordinator, a Print Media and an Online Media, plus additional support as we need it (we always need it…). Our flyers and posters were collected this week which means that print media is in full swing, and any day now PM and I will be all over Hampshire leaving flyers in our wake. Online is becoming an ever increasing publicity tool, whats on guides, social media, websites the list goes on and on and it’s time consuming. Really time consuming. But it’s worth it in the end if people come and see and enjoy the show. It also gives us the means to be able to put on our next show. Which to be honest, as Chair of the Society I need to be thinking about, but as Director of this show I just can’t at the moment.

Lines, Lines Lines,

So, scripts down is coming up on us. Which for me is brilliant news because it’s really hard at this stage to see how people are standing, where their hands are or where/how their looking if they have a book in their hands. Also it hinders energy and characterisation. For the cast, not so much, because the script is a safety blanket. I do have a couple of cast members trying without their scripts – and I love this. I think I confused one member last week with my attempt at a sly thumbs up when I saw he was without book! I guess this whole paragraph is a sly hint to cast reading this… 😉

Characterisation

I’ve been trying to meet up with members of cast before rehearsals to have a chat about their character. It’s so important to me that they understand their motivations, who they are and why. Even down to how they behave on stage – when you have 7 in the regiment plus a corporal, sergeant and lieutenant on stage not everyone can be talking all the time. So each person will need to constantly be thinking about what their character is doing. Are they fidgeting nervously, listening intently or playing with the person next to them. All this has to be consistent. Also, although there is a lot of humour in this play, I personally want to pay respect to the author. Pratchett had this way of picking some quite serious subject matter and exploring it in a way that makes you think but didn’t beat you over the head and I want to do that with the play. I hope that makes sense…

Right, I’m going to have to leave it there this evening – Rehearsals might not stop if a cast member can’t turn up, but I have to be more human less cold infested sleep monster by Tuesday… Over and out.

 

Advertisements

Directors Blog: A Monstrous Production

Hey Folks!

Another week has gone by and here I am again. This week I learnt I can write my blog on my phone! It’s probably going to take me twice as long as usual but since I’ve learnt this information I’m going to use it. Who knows, I might need to feed the cat or join in a one handed Mexican wave while I write and now I can. 

What’s happened this week…

The Carborundum Conundrum 

So when you’re putting on a Pratchett, unless you’re doing one about the Witches you’re probably going to need a troll (or a Golem which raises similar costume issues). And it’s not one of these “under the bridge – all we need is a  large hairy cast member in a loincloth and a club” type trolls. This is a Pratchett troll. Metamophical Rock. Sentient beings made out of rock. Huge silicone based life forms! Although right now I cannot find any concrete links to tell you how huge a troll is meant to, be discussion in rehearsals suggest they are meant to be between 8-10ft tall (Detritus from the books uses a old seige engine as a cross bow).

I stole the below picture from the Discworld wiki pages which gives you an idea of what we’re trying to achieve.


Now… that poses some issues for costuming. We contacted a local university that offers to help with these kinds of things as real life projects for students which help with employability, working with clients that sort of thing. Alas, none of the students wanted to make an 8ft troll costume. Lucky for us, our very own Carborundum was very interested in making his own. When we’re a little further down the road I’m going to badger Adam to write a blog post about how he’s gone about making it, because I think that would be interesting – I’d like to know! There is a reason for this long babble about trolls, ok so, Adam is very tall, I mean he’s not 8ft tall but he’s still tall. And he came into rehearsals this week with these…


They are a prototype, but amazing!

It means that our Carborundum really does tower over the cast, just to give you an idea… 


Impressive huh? 

I’m not going to show you the whole costume when it’s made – If you really want to see it you’re going to have to come and see the show! But it’s going to be so cool. I am very exited about it! These feet also bring in risk assessments – yes I know, it’s not the most exciting of subjects. But they’re important. But I breathed a sigh of relief that I blocked Carborumdum coming on last all the time. But also I need to remind the Regiment when these are worn in rehearsals and during the run not to start retreating backwards off stage if they make a mistake! I don’t want any toes going under the troll feet. 

On My Oath I Am Not A Violent Man…

This is a play about war – someone is going to get hurt. On a quick mental count there are at least six points where people get punched/hit – this isn’t including Blouse’s self inflicted wound. I do not actually want anyone to get hurt. When our local Amdram Network offered us a free unarmed stage combat class from Dan Hill at The Point in Eastleigh we signed up as many cast members as we could and on a dark rainy Friday evening we learnt how to punch each other without actually punching each other. Turns out hitting people on stage is really fun but all about what the audience can see and the “knap” which is the sound you hear. It was an invaluable session, it left me wondering how I can include hair pulling, strangling and a knee to the face… I’m not by the way, I have a penchant for dark plays but I think making Monstrous overly violent for no reason might ruin it somewhat. But I’m very excited about re-choreographing the fight scenes when we go back next week! 

Shaking Off The Day

I start each rehearsal with a warm up – in discussion with other directors they have suggested that it is the actors responsibility to warm up themselves before rehearsals, as the director has to prep, so they don’t do a group warm up. Having been an actor myself and knowing how incredibly hard it is for anyone who is theatrical to get anywhere on time (me included) if I’ve run the warm up I know it’s been done. Now, my warm ups have two purposes. The first is the vocal and breathing exercises, these are to work on diction and projection. The Nuffield is a fantastic space, it is not the most helpful when it comes to acoustics so it’s important that we work on this now as it takes time to build up lung capacity etc. The second is the title of this rambling. We’re not professionals, we fit rehearsals around life, work, families, chores and other hobbies. We get together for a few hours twice a week and we need to make those hours as productive as possible. And trust me. If you’ve had a really bad or stressful day you’re going to take that into the rehearsal room with you. So, 5-10 minutes of warm up just refocuses the mind and brings people’s attention to what they’re doing right now, not the problem that came in 5 minutes before leaving work that made you 15 minutes late to rehearsal. 

In Other News (sorry, I ran out of fun subheadings)

The script for the trailer is written! We’re aiming to film on the third of December. I’m going to let you lot see it first when it’s finished.

We went to the printers this week, I’m picking up all the flyers and posters on Tuesday from the lovely guys at Cubic Digital in Southampton. Who are now my printers of choice after another lot let us down and they did a print job in less than 24 hours for a previous production. Also, they always do a great job.

Almost finally, if you’ve enjoyed the blog, please share on social media and spread the word about the production. Don’t forget to buy a ticket – it’s going to be a great show, tickets are already selling fast and you’ll kick yourself if you’ve read my ramblings for three months and then don’t get a chance to see it! 

Finally, a shout out to our readers on Leicester this week! 

Have a great week! And remember “When in doubt, kick ’em in the nadgers and scarper.” 

Directors Blog: A Monstrous Production

Good evening folks! 

It’s Sunday again so here I am. 

Monday was the production meeting. Was so blessed that so many people turned up willing to help! About 10 of us in a meeting room spreading out the workload. I breathed a big sigh of relief that my idea for the set wasn’t insane and I could actually have my book. You’ll see what I mean when you come and see it. It was actually an idea adapted from when I was a member many years ago with the University Theatre Group. I like the idea of paying homage to the fact it was a book first, so having a large book on stage kills two birds with one stone, as it also gives us a way to set each scene without lengthy set changes (27 scene changes in total) we’d be on till the early hours if we did a full scene change for each one. I’ve seen a few different adaptations of Pratchett books and the ingenuity of the directors and their production teams to take a whole book and condense it down to one stage amazes me. Two notable ones come from Making Money by The Studio Theatre in Salisbury directed by Chris Hawley – who used three arch ways along the back which with changeable signs became shops, bank teller stations and more. Some might recognise Chris’ name from Bouncers & A Midsummer’s Night Dream from SUP over the last year. You can follow Chris’ Black Box Theatre company on facebook – I’m really looking forward to their first production! The other was many many moons ago with the Bellevue Players (they seem now to have disbanded which is a shame as it’s where a cut my amdram teeth!) with Wyrd Sisters – who had a two story box to move between scenes. So back to the actual point – I can have my book and this is a good thing! 

Props are pretty much sorted – picked up a sword from SH this weekend – who tells me the portable Clacks machine is in the making. The guys seemed to have lots of ideas on how to make my campfire which is good because I’m not that technical and would have been incredibly lost – but there was talk of computer fans and lights and moving flames, so at this point I hand it over to them with a smile! 

Costumes seem to be the only issue right now – so, considering how well me mentioning my concern over the trailer went last time (more on that below) I don’t suppose anyone has access to a lot of red military jackets do they… please… 😉

So, last blog I mentioned I was in a bit of a quandary about the trailer, as I didn’t want to have people out of costume. Well, having read about my concern, my brother-in-law got in contact saying he had an idea. Over wine and board games this weekend he explained it to me and I’m so on board! Can’t wait to film it. Yoni has already made some brilliant films and would recommend looking at Yesh Video. Though please click the link and don’t google Yesh! Films because google thinks its being helpful spell correcting for you and I don’t want to be responsible for your internet history. 

Rehearsals this week we ran act 1 and 2 (Tuesday and Thursday) to make sure all the blocking was in place etc, I’d only missed a few scenes – but with changing availability of cast and 27 scenes to plot I don’t think is that bad. Now we can get to the fun stuff! Looking at characters and refining things until January… 

I’m going to end this weeks blog on a slightly surreal moment I had this week. Ok, so, I kind of thought that a few people might read this – my family mainly 😉. Then I mentioned the blog in rehearsals and I find out that it’s not just my long suffering family who have been having a read! I mean that’s amazing, but felt I should have put more effort to structure it rather than my Sunday evening rambling. But it’s my way of doing it so that’s the way it is. But if you’re reading this week Hello to Frankie’s mum and Kat’s mum! Thank you for reading 😊

I’ll see you next week. In the mean time remember #WeAreMonstrous and book

Director’s Blog: A Monstrous Production

cropped-monstrous-regiment-nuffield940x337-resized.jpg

I can’t believe its been so long since I wrote my first.

Sunday’s are my production days – I think of you dip in and out throughout the week you can become consumed by it or you don’t actually get as much done as you think. So on a Sunday evening when everything has been done I sit down and work out what I need to do and start getting it done. Writing the blog was at the top of todays list so here were are.

Having not directed a show this large before it’s a big learning curb for me. So far I have learnt the following:

  • Not everyone gets spread sheets so also put into the text of the email who you need and when.
  • Second to this – make sure you haven’t been a fool and put everyone’s emails in correctly.
  • Whatsapp groups are a good idea – I shall be utilising mine more over the next week or so.
  • Sometimes people can’t make rehearsals. Just breathe and work out what you can do with the people you have.

img_53251

Rehearsals

Blocking has been interesting – I’m a visual person, and I can draw out and plan what I think a scene should be but until they’re standing in front of you it’s hard to get it right – whose going off where, what the next scene is etc. This can lead to some long pauses in rehearsals while my brain is whirring round and round and all the actors want to do is learn their moves so they can start acting. But we’ll get there. I think we’ve blocked 90% of it by now. But we’ll see next week when we run act 1 and 2.

img_52851

Actually, as much as I have an idea of how I want things, the cast opinion means quite a bit to me, they will come up with things I haven’t thought of and several times they’ve gone – Higgs this doesn’t work, how about [insert change here]. I do want to encourage that as much as possible. Sometimes it’s a collaborative process.

I’m starting to see the cast getting their characters. There was this little bit last week, when they’re all trying on bits of outfit before they go off to war – and I looked up to see Tonker and Lofty helping each other (as they would) then Carborundum stomped over to get some help with hat, and it was just right. It was 20 seconds of a whole play and we’re only in blocking. But it’s those kinds of things that just put a silly smile on my face. You know what, thinking about it, I’m telling all of you that I really loved that moment. I don’t think I told them at the time… I have to note that down for next weeks rehearsal.

img_52871

Production

I had a very real conversation with my PM this week about cash, I mean it needed to happen – doesn’t mean I liked it. If our conversation was a musical, it would be a mash up between Jessie J Price Tag (me) and Simply Red’s Money’s to Tight (to mention)  (her). I now really want to look that up and see if it exists – and if it doesn’t someone should make it. But on a serious note – We’re a Community Theatre Company, we’re not in it to make a profit. We’re in it to put on brilliant shows. But when every ticket counts you have to ask yourself – is this item worth 10 tickets?

When you’re directing you kind of have your head in the clouds about what you want everyone to look like on stage – there’s me telling everyone I want World War 1 German style outfits for 5, and Peninsular Style military outfits for 12, plus the Troll, plus all their non military outfits – oh and I want 2 explosions and cutlasses and swords for everyone. I think I have to reign in what I want and put down what I need. Problem is, I feel that I need it all… We’ll find a way around it. We’re having a production meeting tomorrow where we can split all the jobs down and we can come up with some ideas on what we can actually do.

img_53071

The nice thing was, I sent my props list to my “Props Man” and he seems pretty confident that we can put it all together without much hassle or money changing hands.

It’s just costumes I need to work on – I’m going to spend a large portion of the evening putting together Pintrest boards…

Marketing

ARGH! The Video – We don’t have this yet. We do really kind of need one. But I’m really torn. I don’t want a video of people not in costume and it’s unlikely we’re going to get all of these until we get to the theatre. There are a couple of letters in the play, I was kind of thinking of having them written out on screen with a voice over. A more cartoon type approach – but I have no idea how much these kinds of things cost. (Might be back in the kitchen making more fudge to bribe my mate again… Hopefully he doesn’t read this before I can approach him) I mean people make lyric videos all the time, and every time I go on Facebook I see these scrolling videos of click bait.

Right – I’ve got like a million things to plan for the meeting tomorrow – I shall be back soon. 🙂