Blog: The Making of the Absurd

Have you seen the list of props?

The cast are telling me they need their props and they are right so the collection begins.  Does anyone have;

Act 1  – Yellow, white, and light brown    Pristine

Cooker instruction booklet

Small tray with three tumblers


Air freshener

Fly spray

Dish cloths

2 large bags of crisps



Purse with coins


Rubber gloves (yellow)


Cleaning cloth

Tables and two chairs




Curtains (bright and yellowish)

2 X Empty Crisp bowl

Glass of Gin and Lemon

4 tea towels

Carton of tonic water

Pin bottle with pills in

2 glasses of scotch

Water in bucket to soak Jane























ACT 2  – blues, greens, touch of purple   Mismatched and grubby


Very dirty casserole dish

Oven dishes & baking trays

Rubber gloves (blue) kitchen knives various


2 glasses

Tea towel



2 dish cloths


Large tray

Brandy bottle

Coke bottle

Tonic wine

4 whisky glasses

1 gin glass

1 fork

2 knives

T towel


Large kitchen knife

Empty gin nearly bottle


First aid box with carton of pills

1 rubber glove

1 foam cushion

1 broom


Pencil stub

Tin of dog meat

Dog basket

Dog blanket

Nova magazine

Whisky bottle

Glass, Biros

Copy of the guardian (daily)

Screwed up pieces of paper from notepad

Dirty apron

Washing basket (with clothes including ladies underwear)

Clothes line with clothes pegged to it.

Curtains, carpet

2 dirty coffee cups

Pile of half chewed dog biscuits

3 dirty glasses

Tool bag – large and small screwdriver, wrench, hammer, paint stripper bottle, nails, spare light socket

Gin bottle and glass

Act 3       Dark browns and deep reds    Rich but unloved



Tea towel

Tea cosy

Bread board

Cut loaf



Large spoon

Bowl of fruit

Peanut butter



Old fashioned Radio

Teacups and saucers & plates (matching and posh)

Eye shade

Book – 50 shades of grey

Portable oil stove

Small carpet or rugs

Drinks trolley

Bottles of whisky, Gin, sherry, soda syphon, brandy, martini,  4 tonics, 1 whisky glass, 2 tumblers, 1 gin glass, 2 bottles of bitter lemon.

Carrier bag containing bottle of gin in presentation box,

electric screwdrivers,

present to Auntie Gloria,

2 toys,

one that squeaks,

budgerigar bell,

chocolate father Christmas,

forfeit list

Party blower

Nose mask





Flu stops rehearsals – November 16th

When I asked my family whether I should direct the play in the summer or the winter they asked me to direct in the winter so that I would have all my summer weekends free to spend with them rather than be rehearsing.

This seemed a good idea so a winter play it was and a very funny one at that. But with a winter comes the flu and so far two thirds of my cast have been poorly and five rehearsals have been cancelled and I have been totally out of action in blog writing. Flu jabs all round please.

Despite that the play is going marvellously. Jane is compulsively cleaning Marion is sniping away and Sydney is on the 11th layer of his pass the parcel. Ronald has been trying to fix a light bulb for three weeks and Jeffrey is swaggering around reminding all the women how gorgeous he is. Eva is causing a problem at the moment as I can’t get her out from underneath the table nevertheless we battle on. It is lovely seeing the characters that you have imagined in your mind come to life in front of you and although it is dark and raining and we are coughing sneezing and sometimes freezing it is worth every moment. I love it and it is promising to be a brilliant show.

Blatant plug coming: tickets on sale now at and I am delighted to sat that they are selling fast.

Bridget wilkinson



Auditions with Doodle – 20th September 2014

Over the past two weeks I have auditioned 36 brilliant people for 6 roles and now I need a lie down.

I find auditioning hard, I know some directors run auditions by letting people use any audition piece they like but I  am not that skilled or brave. In order to know how someone would be in the part, I have to hear them reading the actual part and usually 2 or 3 different snippets from different scenes particularly if they are portraying different emotions. This makes for a long session, actually it ended up being four evenings which is the most I have ever had to do.

I know from auditioning myself that it gets boring hanging around waiting and that when you do audition you want your fair shot at everything you may have read through at home. Quite right to, so I need to organise an evening where people don’t get bored but also everyone gets the time they need.

This year I came up with a secret weapon, a doodle poll. In past years, auditionees have all completed an audition form on arrival stating which roles they want to audition for. Usually most people want to audition for more than one. This means that at the start of the evening you are presented with a big pile of papers that you have to immediately sought into order and work through in as much order as possible. This is where things go wrong, a big pile of papers in my world tends to spread all over the table, drop on the floor, and get completely mixed up and cause stress and delay. No more. this year by the wonder of the internet and a doodle poll, everyone signed up in advance to say which evening they were coming and who they were reading for. One piece of paper replaces 36.

I did get it dreadfully wrong in one case. I was working from left to right on my doodle poll taking one character at a time and trying I thought to be efficient. It was only at 10.15pm that realised that one person had only chosen to audition for the part furthest right on my page. If I had done that part first she could have gone home, rather than spending 2 and a half hours sitting waiting. I did feel bad.

Seeing people on different nights is not easy, memory problems get in the way, so my learning for next time is to video on an ipad and watch at home one after the other for comparison purposes.

At the end of the day what I can report is I saw some really great auditions and met some really lovely people. I am so happy with my wonderful cast and at the same time quite sad that I couldn’t offer roles to a number of people who were also excellent but perhaps slightly too young or old for the roles.

I hope everyone who auditioned will keep involved in some way. Backstage, Front of house, sourcing props etc, There is so much to do.

Is a play reading an audition? – Sunday 7th September 2014

It arrived, the day of the play reading, the day I get to explain  my vision to all interested parties and hope that some of them like it as much as I do.

We started slightly late with the play reading, having overlooked that electing a new committee at the AGM immediately prior to the reading was probably going to take a little longer than the 10 minutes that we have, nevertheless 9am there was a packed room full of members old and new. I have been to some play readings where the turn out is really low so my first panic that no one would turn up was completely unfounded.

People read very well with some great comic timing which made for a lot of laughter.  I try very hard to give everyone who is there and wants to, a chance to read, but even swapping every few minutes I didn’t quite achieve  this and I am so sorry for the people who didn’t quite get a chance (You know who you are).   There are always a few people at a play reading who genuinely want to listen but most of  us are just lovvies and want to read and be part of the ‘show’. I have always wondered when I used to act, whether a play reading is actually an audition and therefore it is important to be heard if you want to get that starring role. I have also wondered whether Director’s have already chosen their cast before the auditions ever happen. I know of one amdram company (mentioning no names) where parts  were allocated on a strict rota basis, irrespective of what age or skill the role called for. I suspect that each Director works differently.

I will certainly encourage people to read who I think will read well, (bearing in mind the fear that no will turn up – see above!), but beyond that I have no thoughts. On Tuesday I start auditioning and anything could happen. . I haven’t a clue who my cast will be, finding out will be exciting and scary all wrapped up in one.

If you are reading this and thinking of auditioning, come along, you will be warmly welcomed.


Wednesday 3rd September 2014

Play Reading V AGM

It is a tradition of SUP that after the AGM which always takes place at the start of September as a society we read the January production, which if you have been following this blog is Absurd person singular directed by me.

I am  Vice Chair of the society as well as the incoming director which is giving me an interesting confusion of thoughts. The director in me wants to go as fast as physically possible through the AGM so we can get onto the play. As Vice-Chair I want to have a really productive and participative AGM, elect some new blood on to the committee to inject new ideas and also celebrate  the achievements of the membership over the past year.

I will do both but I know I will have one eye on the clock. (Ssh! don’t let the committee know) Bridget

 Tuesday 26th August 2014

Set Design – The caravan and chocolate fingers way

So determined was I to get the details of the set, in terms of entrances, exits, sinks etc sorted before I go into rehearsal (only 3 weeks away, Yikes!) that I took my 1/2 complete model of the set on holiday with me in a plastic bag.  Made entirely out of one Cadbury’s chocolate fingers box, (plus a little bit of crunchy nut cornflakes) when complete there were 3 walls, oven’s (one with an opening door), two sink units, 1 fridge, 1 washing machine,  1xFrench windows, 5 doors, 1 walk in cupboard, 4 windows and a bin.

Not very professional, I hear you cry and I admit I was feeling anxious. Set design  is the area that I really am scared of. I have seen some amazing sets, particularly in some of the new Nuffield shows, Tonight at 8.30pm was brilliant and Last Christmas’s revolving stage for the Nutcracker would have been perfect, however back to reality with a bump. We are a small amateur theatre with a corresponding budget and unfortunately that means something not so grand.

I digress, I had a cunning plan to my madness. For the second half of our holiday we were joining a groups of thespians camping or caravanning in Dorest. It was the annual Masker’s Camp, Loved it by the way, Thank you to any Masker who may be reading this and was involved in the organisation.  A number of SUP members are also member’s of Maskers Theatre Group and one such person is Adam. Now if you check back you will see from my second blog entry that Adam is a person who does a huge amount for the society and amongst other things he is the person with the stage plan of the Nuffield and the set designer.

So there we were, hiding in a caravan, in the pouring rain, in the middle f a field, moving around bits of Cadbury’s chocolate finger box and checking that it all fitted on the plan. Eventually it did.

If you see the show, keep an eye out for a box of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers they will be on there somewhere in homage to our soggy afternoon, who said theatre was glamorous!


Thursday 31st July 2014, Bridget Wilkinson, Director

Forestage or no forestage

I have found that when one part of  putting on the play gets to difficult my mind flitters across to another topic to see if I can’t make progress in that area while hoping that deep in my subconscious I will be sorting out the original problem.

The most pressing and difficult thing at the moment is the set (Casting isn’t until September so I have happily put that out of my mind for now). It is pressing as the box office are already selling tickets based on the fact that I am not having any forestages as that is what I have told them. For those who may not know if you have forestages they have to remove some of the seating at the front of the theatre, thus cutting down the money you can make from Ticket sales.

When I was asked whether I wanted a forestage I said no. I have to admit I was in marketing mode at the time so was thinking maximising ticket sales but now I have director hat on I am not sure. (I am also the society’s vice chair and head of  marketing – we are a small society – committee of 5 but that is another story).

This is causing a little concern because the seats which would be taken away should I change my mind about the forestage are currently on sale. So if people book them now does that mean they get taken away as well. Luckily being a small local society the likelihood of selling tickets 6 months in advance of the show is more or less nil, but you can always hope. Actually as an aside for a moment, I believe we have actually sold 19 tickets, (o.k. I admit it some of them are mine for my family on the last night, best seats in the house and all that). If you want to keep track check out (Do you see how sneakily I took you to the ticket booking page, that the marketer in me again – sorry old habits!) Actually let me do a check I haven’t checked for at least 24 hours…..

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand corrected it is 24 not 19, how exciting. Luckily none of them are in the danger forestage area of rows B to E so we are ok.

Actually I probably should sort this out, so soon as I have done this I will be facebooking my mentor Meri (see earlier blog) to see what she says.

I really have wandered off my original topic haven’t I . I had called this blog Suicide Music as I was going to tell you that as I was struggling with the set I my mind wander to the subject of music. (Interval and during the show)… Why suicide music you ask….  (Eastenders music starts to play and I have learnt the art of leaving a cliff hanger….)


Tuesday 29th July 2014

The thing I am mulling over at the moment is how to get three kitchens on stage for the production.

I watched an excellent production of the Nutcracker at the Nuffield theatre last Christmas where they have built a huge rotating set, A bit like a pie chart, you turned the circle round to reveal the next scene. Check out the review at

I would love to do that as it was stunning however cost is restrictive and also in The Nutcracker they went back and forwards between scenes quite a lot whereas in Absurd you have a different kitchen for each act but never return to it.

My thoughts then wandered momentarily to having one kitchen on either side of the stage, but that would be no good as the audience on the other side of the auditorium would quite rightly be fed up and also this doesn’t solve the issue of the third kitchen.

When Alan Ayckbourn originally did the play, it was in the round and each kitchen was dismantled and the new one set in full view of the audience in the intervals. There is a brilliant video of this on youtube at:

and I am completely taken with how they change the floors.

Could do this in the Nuffield, but with the best will in the world we wouldn’t make it look slick and it would probably take ages, which was a bit of a problem with a recent production, so delays must be avoided at all costs.

Thinking caps remain on…


Monday 28th July 2015

Graphic Designer Diggory Steele-Perkins completes the poster.


Just found out I haven’t actually been writing a blog, but instead just updating a webpage. I have now found ‘New Post’ button so all should be o.k. tomorrow. Hopeless!


Sunday 27th July  2015

Putting on a show takes a whole group of  really dedicated people. They have to be full of enthusiasm, committed and depending on the role incredibly hard working. There are a few people that I wouldn’t dare put on a show without so I made sure they were available before I even volunteered to direct.  I will introduce you to them in a minute and as I am a lovey  I can get away with saying that I love this lot to bits, they are some of my theatre family.

So here goes:

The Committee – for having faith in me – they do look pleased!

adam janealison & paulMary

Paul,  my husband, referred to as Mr P – Responding well to the news I am directing, I thought!






and the production team for Absurd (60% complete at this stage):

 mikeclaytonSandymeriValJane  Mike and Clayton:Technical DirectorsFor all things technical (I won’t even agree to direct until I know these two are on board. I depend on them so much!)Sandy:Production AssistantFor everything that needs organisation and order. Sandy joined the society last year as our chaperone for Anne Frank and since then made herself simply indispensable. Meri: My Directing MentorJust in case I get stuck. A hugely experienced, supportive director who in her free time is Chair of Maskers Theatre Group as well.Auntie Val: PromptThe Society’s Auntie VAL – Prompt & biscuits (when I have forgotten to eat all day – which does seem to quite often when I am directing) Most importantly if Val says, learn your lines – you better had or there will be trouble.Jane: WardrobeWho boldly goes from charity shop to Jumble sale, seeking out  the perfect look! Last time it was blue boiler suits and furry slippers. This time….. (not telling yet)

Just as an aside, due to my  new job role, I have an objective to become more conversant with social media and the digital age, so keeping this blog is killing two birds with one stone. So that you can track my progress, I need to say that putting the pictures and the words so they were level (I know they are not quite) took me 2 hours. Surely there must be an easier way.

So I have people in place, missing a props person, trying to convince John to help me out with an idea for the set and generally relying on Adam for everything else. Oh and trying to think of funny songs about suicide, no seriously I am, all suggestions gratefully received.

Time for sleep.


Saturday 26th July 2014

The tickets for Absurd Person Singular at the Nuffield Theatre in January 2015 are on sale. Book now

We have a director, that’s me, Bridget Wilkinson, but no cast, no set, no sound or lighting, but inside my head I have a vision, mainly in focus. Over the next 6 months, I will be trying to translate the vision I have in my head into physical things.  I know there will be times when I say ‘No’, when I have no idea what would make me say ‘yes’,  I know that people will have brilliant ideas that will improve on my vision and make it more than it was. More than anything, I know that however stressed I get by the 1001 things to sort, I will be surrounded by such a great group of people that we will above anything have fun, creating a fast and furious farce which I hope will make you laugh and cry at the same time, but more about that later.

I am relatively new to  directing this will be my third show. I loved every moment of the first show ‘How the Other Half Loved’ but struggled with the second ‘It Could be Anyone of Us’. This was possibly because the job I was doing (drama is a hobby) disappeared from beneath my feet half way through rehearsal. However the cast and crew were fab and carried on despite me. I felt really bad letting them down.  That was 3 years ago.

I love Absurd Person Singular, it was the play I really wanted to do when I directed How the Other Half Loves, but was persuaded (correctly) that the required set, three different kitchens, one for each act, was perhaps too much for me. But now, maybe it isn’t, we will see.

For now, play stops Blog, as my attention as a mum is needed now. Juggle Juggle Juggle.



3 thoughts on “Blog: The Making of the Absurd

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