And we’re off…!

So, that’s another Dress Rehearsal down.

As an actor (not that I was ever a particularly good one), I always used to get a huge buzz after a dress rehearsal and an enormous post-show low. As a director, the pattern is different: I get a low of sorts post-dress rehearsal – possibly because my real work is done and I am effectively redundant, though hopefully still useful for moral support at the very least.

However, I don’t want this to be a low post… because we’re off to Stratford tomorrow afternoon. I am still absurdly excited when I think about it! The Dress Rehearsal was extremely promising, and I am really looking forward to seeing what my truly talented cast make of their show – definitely their show now! – on Saturday.

Think of us – and come to watch, if you can – The Dell 12 noon and 3pm – we’d love to see you there. (You can also support our crowdfunding until the 31st July – http://www.sponsume.com/project/elart-productions).

And we’re off…!

elaru xx

All the World’s A Stage (again!)

Hello again.

It’s been a busy few weeks! As well as casting “Iphigenia” for the Rose Company a week last Monday (a very exciting prospect for late June, early July and beyond), ELART Productions is also slowly, but surely getting ready to perform at The Dell in Stratford on Saturday June 8th and we are all really looking forward to the experience. It’s getting scarily close now! (I’m desperately trying to stop myself looking at long-range weather forecasts; one of my grandmothers is addicted to weather news, so I’m even trying not to listen to her too closely when the subject of the weather comes up in conversation!)

It’s been great fun re-visiting the show. We performed it – not quite in this form or with quite this company – a couple of years ago and it was well-received by audiences, so it’s lovely to have a reason to play with it again. As I mentioned last post, the thinking behind it at the very start, was to devise an accessible and entertaining show that would appeal to young and old, while trying to see what it must have been like in Shakespeare’s day when women weren’t allowed on the professional stage. The comedy scenes have usually worked quite easily (well, as easily as anything ever does in a rehearsal room…), and, indeed, in the few rehearsals we’ve had to date, that has again been the case: Pyramus and Thisbe is a real romp; the 3 witches (not always played for laughs, I realise) are hilariously manic; even Cleopatra’s temper tantrum is humorously – and deliberately – OTT.

The scenes that most interest me as a director this time round, though, are some of the more serious ones. For example:
Will Portia convince as she manipulates the courtroom (admittedly dressed as a male-lawyer)?
Will the audience be on Juliet’s side as Lord Capulet rages at her for refusing to marry Paris?

Only time will tell – but (as our rehearsal photos below hopefully show) we are working hard to make these scenes as compelling, interesting and real as we can, so that our audience can experience a fully varied and entertaining ride through some of the famous Shakespearian scenes.
We hope we succeed!

Shylock., Portia and The Duke

Shylock., Portia and The Duke

Clarence trying to persuade the 2 Murderers

Clarence trying to persuade the 2 Murderers

The Mechanicals

The Mechanicals

Capulet and Juliet

Capulet and Juliet

More soon…
elaru xx

A Review – Part 2

Today is a significant day. It is the first day in over twelve months that I haven’t had a production to think about – and don’t know exactly what my next project will be. It feels nice to relax -fun and rewarding as theatre is, it is also highly challenging and stressful – and a short break will give me chance to decide exactly what I want to do next. The emphasis is on short, though – I have lots of ideas and several applications in and imminent, so will be itching to get going on new projects and productions very soon.

So, it’s a good time to review. The easiest way is through pictures of the main productions which have happened in 2012. It means missing out the various workshops – one of which was mentioned in A Review- Part 1; the reading of a verbatim text devised by a local writer, which happened at The Dukes with a range of theatre professionals – a gathering which focussed on a new actor-centred approach to new writing which is being piloted in various places; the fun I had leading the audience around a castle for a local theatre company’s production of Much Ado About Nothing; the Litfest Mystery Launch – it was such a hectic time (detailed in earlier blog posts) that I didn’t have time to arrange – or take – photographs; and the recording of All The World’s A Stage for an Australian online festival  (though a link to part of that recording can be found at www.vimeo.com/channels/elartproductions ). Despite the omissions, though, I hope it gives a real flavour of what 2012 has been about.

Things started properly early in March, when The Dukes flatteringly asked me to revive All The World’s A Stage as part of a city-wide Shakespeare Festival. A couple of the original actors were unavailable, so we took the opportunity to adapt and revise, culminating in The Play’s The Thing! which was performed at The Ashton Memorial.

The acoustics in the building were very strange, but some wonderful effects were achieved by using the stairs. With playing and hard rehearsal, we finally cracked the overall acoustic too.

As an all-male cast, one of the real challenges of The Play’s The Thing was producing serious scenes involving female characters. This scene – Lord Capulet berating Juliet – worked beautifully.

The whole cast made me laugh in Pyramus and Thisbe. This is a tiny moment when Pyramus and Thisbe whisper through Wall’s chink.

The amazing venue of The Play’s The Thing from the outside.

The Play’s The Thing! was swiftly followed by The Vigil, a community production in a lovely village church. The Vigil by Ladislas Fodor re-tells the Christian Easter story as a courtroom drama, with the gardener on trial for snatching the body of Jesus. The production was moving and hugely enjoyable and it played to extremely receptive audiences. For various reasons, I found myself acting and directing, something I greatly prefer to avoid, but in this case it seemed to work out satisfactorily.

Rehearsing The Vigil by Ladislas Fodor in a lovely village church was a joy. It was amazing how well the church suited the courtroom set and the pulpit was a fantastic dock.

Using some of the church features suited the message of The Vigil very well.

Next came The Crucible (detailed heavily earlier in this blog). I loved this production so much, that I’m going to indulge myself with a number of photos – tirelessly taken at rehearsals by a friend and member of the cast.

An early rehearsal – April 2012- for June’s The Crucible.

Working with such a talented and committed cast between April and June 2012 was a real highlight of the year. Explosive moments, such as the one pictured in rehearsal here between Proctor and Abigail made the production very special.

Rehearsing Act 1 in a different rehearsal room. May 2012.

Working hard in the priory cafeteria!

Some of the fabulous girls – and the equally fabulous Proctor!

Placing Danforth in the pulpit worked well, allowing him to dominate proceedings in Act 3.

Pre-dress rehearsal (minus long socks for the men!)

The whole priory in use as the court springs to life in Act 3.

There were challenges in using the priory space, but also some wonderful bonuses, such as this fantastic shaft of light illuminating Abigail as she is confronted by Hale.

The whole cast and crew – a fantastic group of people!

A quieter summer followed, and then in autumn things got going again. The next production with photographs had the largest cast of the year – two casts, in fact! It was a youth production of the opera Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten and alongside a core of teenagers, who played the lead roles, were two teams of over 30 primary age children, who played the animals at alternate performances. A good, if hectic, time was had by all!

The whole show was medieval in design and these wooden waves (handled by stage crew) worked beautifully in the storm sequence.

At the end, as well as a wooden rainbow, sun and moon, the children moved into colour groups according to the colour T-shirt they were wearing, and became the rainbow themselves.

And finally, we come to last night’s Theatre Uncut show, which seemed to be a great success. The audience was certainly appreciative, and the seven shows fitted together very well, with only minimal scene shifting needed. This allowed the evening to flow and really gather momentum in a satisfactory way.

Ama and Lou in prison.

A disagreement.

An intimate moment of persuasion – one of my favourite parts.

And there it is. 2012. A huge thank you to anyone who has been involved in any way at all – and to all who have supported the shows. All ideas for future projects gratefully recieved; all considered.

2013 – Bring it on!

elaru xx

Becoming Real…

Yesterday I went shopping. I bought blue material (3 metres), dark green material (quarter of a metre), light green material (quarter of a metre), 2 broom handles, a black feathered eye mask, 4 plastic pint cups and a black marker pen. At the end of my shopping I felt satisfied, as I had completed the buying necessary for Noye’s Fludde, which is on at the end of next week.

While shopping, however, I couldn’t help thinking about the Litfest opening event, and the fact that I couldn’t do any shopping for it – couldn’t spend any of the £33 pound budget – because I still don’t know the theme! Thankfully, Monday evening is getting closer, as I’m at the stage now where I can’t wait to get going…

I have managed to do a couple of very useful things over the last two days, though. Yesterday morning I visited the venue – The Round at The Dukes. Although it’s a space I have been in many, many times as an audience member, it’s very different looking round with a “director’s head”. I only stayed about 30 minutes, but it was extremely useful – being able to visualise the backstage space, working out where various exits go, getting a copy of the floor plans, finding out a little about available props/furniture and where exactly the audience will sit. (There’s going to be an audience – a few tickets have already been booked – AARGH!)

Additionally, I have contacted all the performers who have (crazily, but wonderfully) agreed to take part and I have given them a rough rehearsal schedule. Rehearsals, obviously, will be extremely limited, so it’s important we all know where we’re supposed to be at a given time.

All these things make the event begin to seem real.

Wish us luck! And hope to see you there…

elaru xx