Closure

So, that’s that. The Crucible 2012 is done.

We had good-sized audiences at each show, and comments I have heard have been extremely positive, which is very pleasing. It’s always hard for me to judge how a show has gone – by the time it’s being performed, I am way too close to it – over-aware, perhaps, of its flaws and over-pleased, perhaps, with its strengths and high points.

I do know, however, that on this occasion, I was as confident as I have ever been in what I saw happening on stage at the Saturday matinee (the only one of the four shows I watched all through). Cast and crew were working together beautifully, and every single person seemed to me to be performing at the top of their game. I was really proud of them – and not a little emotional!

And now here we are three days later: props have been returned, costumes will be collected Saturday, photos have been uploaded and shared and “normal” life has resumed. Images of The Crucible still flash often into my mind, however – like some of these from the dress rehearsal.

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And this one of the whole cast and crew after the final show:

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So, has my love-affair with The Crucible ended? On balance, I think not. I have a feeling I’ll want to revisit it sometime. To play with it again. But not for a long time. Now other projects beckon – some involving some of the fantastic people I have worked with on this show.

Watch this space… there’s more to come…!

elaru xx

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Show Day

I was going to have a lie-in this morning. I’d set my alarm for a decadent 9.00am, and was maybe going to snooze even after that, and then perhaps lounge in bed and read for an hour or so. This lie-in, coupled with a quiet day, during which all I had to do before 5.00pm was buy some gaffer tape, a small rag doll and some herbs (don’t ask – shopping lists for plays are always odd!), was going to set me up to be refreshed and relaxed, ready for four shows over three days.

That was the plan.

The reality? It’s currently 8.30am and, after a restless night’s sleep, full of snatches of disturbingly strange dreams, I have been resolutely awake since 6.45am. As for my intention to lie-in and read: well, I can’t concentrate on anything for long, so that’s out of the question… It’s definitely show day!

Years ago, when I was a drama student, I read Simon Callow’s book Being An Actor. Towards the end of the book, he writes about an actor on the day of a show, and about how the knowledge of the show in the evening absolutely colours the day, making ordinary activities seem strange – and even dangerous, if they draw too much focus from the character the actor is playing. Although I’m a director, not an actor, this is exactly how I feel today.

I wonder how my cast members are doing? Our dress rehearsal was the night before last  (I always like to leave the evening before a show clear for everyone to rest, if I can) and, apart from a couple of phone-calls, one or two texts and a few tweets, I’ve not been in touch with them. I was pleased overall with the dress rehearsal: the pace slowed too much in places; one or two characters still need to project a little more at times; a handful of lines were dropped and one of the scene changes needs to speed up, but otherwise things are in place. I’m glad it wasn’t perfect; if a dress rehearsal is too good, there’s a real risk of complacency. I guess, then, I believe in the saying that a bad dress rehearsal means a good show – as long as it’s not too bad! – if something catastrophic goes wrong, that’s a different story – but when mistakes/faults are the kind of things I’ve listed, adrenalin and an audience generally sort them out on opening night. We’ll see…!

OK. It’s now 9.15am. Blogging has taken up some time at least, but not enough…

It’s going to be a long day…

elaru xx

Snapshots

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Here are just a few of the great rehearsal photos taken by a friend of mine, who is also playing one of the marshals in the play. If he’s reading this, I extend my sincere thanks.

The photos are in no particular order, but hopefully give a flavour of our work so far.

ImageProctor and Mary Warren in the court.

ImageProctor and Abigail in Parris’ house.

ImageHale and Tituba at the end of Act 1.

ImageThe Proctors at home with Giles and Francis.

ImageThe girls.

And here are a couple of me directing (just in case you think I only blog about it  and don’t actually do anything.) I’ve been told I wave my arms around rather a lot…and on the evidence of these pictures, I guess I can no longer deny it!

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Ah well.

elaru xx

All Dressed Up

I’m going to begin this post with a confession: Wardrobe Mistresses – and Masters – scare me. Especially when they’re in their natural domain.

Earlier in the week (before becoming ill and then having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was given – it’s been a long week…!), I visited the costume department of  a local theatre to hire costumes for The Crucible. It was an extremely productive visit, with almost all female costumes sorted in one go, and a fair start made on the male ones. The show should look great.

But back to my confession… Now, you must understand that I have huge respect for those who work  in the area of costuming – and, indeed, I am immensely personally fond of some of them; so far, for example, for this production, I have had help and advice from a costume lady/friend who worked on many productions with me when I was Head of Drama in a school, as well as from the lady who costumed me when I played Abigail myself, who I have known since I was about four years old, and who is the mother of a wonderful friend of mine.

So, why the fear?

I suppose it’s because costume ladies and gentlemen, especially when we are together in the actual wardrobe department, make me feel like a very small child again.

Most of the time, I can pull off the role of “convincing grown-up”. OK, maybe I’m never totally “convincing”, but  I move around and interact in society as a 30-something woman and am fairly comfortable with this. Put me in a wardrobe department, though, and decades fall from me. As we pick out costumes, the costume ladies and gentlemen say things to me like, “All this needs is to be taken up three inches or so…” or “You’d need to add a lacy frill to the neck…” or “The sleeves need to be lengthened…” or “You could adjust the waist a couple of inches and then add a train to the back…” And I smile and nod and think, “No I couldn’t! I couldn’t do any of the things you suggest, you clever, capable, confident costume person, because little old me can only just about sew a button on and, of course I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it is!” And I leave feeling about 6 years old.

So, there you go. That’s my confession and its explanation. I feel better for sharing. Thank you.

And costumiers of the world, I salute you!

elaru xx