Putting on a Show

Our prime purpose is to produce plays and in doing so to involve all those members of the community who wish to join us to take part and gain experience in dramatic presentations. Here we hope to explain how we go about our activities.

How do we choose plays?

We encourage all members of the group to put forward suggestions for future productions. The committee considers all ideas and, bearing in mind practicalities such as potential cast sizes and availability, venue availability, and whether any particular idea is affordable, a list of suggestions will be offered to our group of show directors for consideration. Wherever possible we try to ensure that the programme of plays that we put forward for each year will be interesting to perform, challenging, will draw an audience sufficient to cover our costs and will allow all members who want to be involved a chance to perform.All Around my PoleAll Around my Pole

Who directs the plays?

We have a core group of half a dozen experienced directors in the group and we are always encouraging others to try their hand. New directors can get experience either by following an experienced director as an assistant, or by having a go at a one-act play.

How are productions organised?

The organisation of productions is in the hands of our Productions Officer. She is responsible for hiring the venue, getting the performing rights licence, ensuring that backstage and technical staff is in place, and running the regular production meetings. At these meetings all the bits and pieces that go to make up the production jigsaw are reviewed, so that we do not find, for example, that we are short of costumes, or that vital props are missing or that posters and flyers are behind schedule.

How are shows cast?

The casting for each play is entirely the responsibility of the play’s director. We do not have casting committees or any other oversight of casting. The director will develop a concept of the show and then cast it accordingly. All full members are eligible to be cast if they want to take part.Rehearsing "Fairway to Heaven"
Rehearsing "Fairway to Heaven"
The actual method of casting is again down to the director, but normally it is through a play reading. We do not, as a rule, use auditions.

Prior to casting the play there will be a full reading of the script for the whole group. At that reading people will be invited to read a number of different parts, not with a view to being cast, but so that the director can get an idea of how the play sounds in different voices. The following week will probably be the casting reading when the play, or sections of the play, will be read again, with the director trying out members in different roles.

A word about reading; many people feel nervous about having to sight read a script, particularly if they are not good sight readers. We understand that and make allowance for it. The fact is that the ability to sight read bears no relationship to acting ability, and many a fine actor reads dreadfully (and some good readers are indifferent actors).

When do we rehearse?

An average rehearsal period is 13 weeks. Initially we rehearse once a week on Monday evenings from 7.30 to 10.00pm. As the rehearsals progress we will usually add in extra rehearsals which aim to cover particular sections of the play, or possibly, if the show is a pantomime, go over musical pieces. These rehearsals are normally held on Thursday evenings. Monday rehearsals are always at our regular meeting place, Wavendon Gate Community Centre, Isaacson Drive, Wavendon Gate. Thursday rehearsals are often in Woburn Sands.

Are there activities if I am not cast in a play?

The short answer is yes! For any show there is a huge amount of preparatory work that needs to be done during the rehearsal period. The actual tasks will vary from show to show, but they will include:-

Set building for Wind in the WillowsSet Building for "Wind in the Willows"
  • Props (sourcing & making)
  • Costumes
  • Set design, painting & construction
  • Publicity tasks

We will need Sound and Lighting people who will need to attend rehearsals to become familiar with the play and the cues. The director will need someone to note down changes to moves. A Stage Manager is required and he / she will need an Assistant. During the performances we will need backstage crew and Front of House staff. A show with a cast of 6 can easily need another 20 in support.

Putting on a play is a team effort; every member of the team is equally important and although it tends to be the actors who get the plaudits, they know that they they stand on the shoulders of the often unseen support crew.