The Perils of amdram
Kibworth Theatre Company is only a small group, tiny compared to the likes of The Little Theatre in Leicester or some of the other local amateur groups. Not for us a dedicated stage or lighting crew; the chances are that if you want to act in one of our productions then you’ll be helping to build the set too or source props or do any one of the number of jobs required to put on a show. We also have to share our performance and rehearsal space with a number of other hall users and this is why we had to have our dress rehearsal on Sunday afternoon, a full four days before our opening night. I don’t say this because I want people to feel sorry for us or to use it as an excuse if a show doesn’t quite come off but to try and put what we do into some kind of contact. I actually enjoy putting on a show this way (well a bit more rehearsal time on stage with the full set up would be nice) but I do like the “we’re all in it together” attitude. The downside of course is that it does put a big strain on everybody involved and we need very patient partners as we announce that “Yes I’m off to bloody drama again.” Real life also has a bad habit of butting its nose in; people do have lives to lead outside of drama. This was very apparent at the weekend; Saturday and Sunday morning was spent finishing off the set (mostly, still bits to be done) and rigging the lights and sound system. Sunday afternoon was dress rehearsal! Except we were a few short; Stuart as the Colonel we knew about but we also lost Jurgen as Officer Crabtree to the flu and Sasha our Mimi because she was called into work at the last minute. However despite these absences it went really well and suddenly the play has come together (about time too you may say). Everyone is so busy and there is so much dashing around that the danger of viruses and illness sweeping through the cast is ever present. As I write someone is familiarising themselves with Jurgen’s lines, just in case. Hopefully he will be back and fighting fit by Thursday but you never know……….Oh and the new costumes are terrific.
Crisis what crisis?
Less than a week to go and there has been a slight hitch in the smooth preparations for Allo Allo. I went to get the Allo Allo package that we had ordered some months agofrom the suppliers but sadly when we got it back and unpacked it left a lot to be desired. The uniforms were dirty, had buttons missing and caps, jackets and trousers didn’t always match and the props were decidedly second rate. What to do? Fortunately there is an excellent costume hire place in Leicester called Vintage Years and they were able to supply all our needs and at a much higher standard. You may well ask why we didn’t go to them in the first place and it just goes to show that it pays to shop around. We packed up the stuff from the first hire place and returned them and quickly picked up the Vintage Years stuff. We’ve had to take a bit of a financial hit but we think it’s worth it.
Saturday 22 saw us back set building and it was a very long day (fortunately we’ve had Andrew’s cheery optimism to keep us going!!!). The set does look very good and we are proud of it although there is still a bit of titivating to do. Tomorrow it’s the technical and then the dress rehearsal. Another long day looms but the adrenalin should keep us going; failing that lots and lots of coffee.
Not long now
Just a couple of weeks to go now before we go on and the pace is definitely hotting up and the tension is mounting. This was quite apparent last Thursday when yours truly was decidedly off form and had far too many prompts for my liking (and was just a little bit grumpy). Fortunately Alison had lost her voice so she couldn’t tell me off! Yes, our director has lost her voice so it remains to be seen how many of us get infected and lose our voices before the opening night! Hopefully we’ve all got time to get ill and recover.
Talking of losing things we’ve temporarily lost our Colonel Von Strom who has gone to Africa and won’t be back until just before our opening night. Obviously this isn’t an ideal state of affairs and we have known about it for some time. We could have recast but Stuart Lyons is so good in the part we decided to make the compromise; let’s face it Amdram is all about compromises.
This weekend we have been set building and it’s all been quite jolly. I think that it’s a testament to how good the spirit in the cast is that so many of the actors turned up to help out. I have been involved in shows were just a few of us have been scratting around trying to get everything done. Everyone has worked very hard and the set is really taking shape.
Tomorrow (Monday 17th) I am off to pick up the costumes and props so at our next rehearsal we should all begin to look the part (hopefully by next week I’ll sound like it too!!!!)
Four weeks to go
Rehearsals continue to go well and things are hotting up as we realise that we only have a few weeks to go. We had a minor hiccup a couple of weeks ago when our director Alison was poorly and missed a couple of rehearsals. This gave me the opportunity to jump up and take the reins; oh the power! Actually I did feel a bit guilty; there was me making all these suggestions to the others but what about my own performance? It’s certainly a lot easier telling others what to do rather than doing it yourself. Fortunately Alison made a full recovery and was able to take us forward once more.
Much of our time at the moment is working on what we showbizzy people call business. All those sight gags that require perfect timing; they look so effortless when you see them on the professional stage or on telly but they do require an awful lot of rehearsal.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be starting work on the set. We already have a few props to play with and bits of costumes are appearing. Most people have put their books down (although one or two are still holding tightly on to theirs). This of course entails a lot of work for our prompt Christine who is trying to keep us on the straight and narrow. Prompting is very much an unsung skill; as we the actors flounder on when does the prompt step in and put us right? She has to know what is a dramatic pause and what is a full stop because the actor doesn’t have a clue what they are supposed to say next and has ground to a halt. Finally what do you do when the actors get into one of those dreaded loops when the same bit of text is repeated ad infinitum and the actors look terrified as they haven’t a clue how to get out of it?
Even though the pressure is on we are still enjoying ourselves and at The Swan public House seems to be doing well out of us when we let off steam at the end of each rehearsal.
The “It’s been a while” blog
Once upon a time when KTC did a show the director and other members of the cast produced a regular blog giving stunning insights and behind the scenes gossip into the production. Sadly over the last couple of years we have got out of the habit so this is an attempt at reviving the practice.
We are currently rehearsing Allo All which will hit the stage on the last weekend in November and the first weekend in December. Allo Allo is a challenging production; it has a large cast and numerous scene changes which have to be effected swiftly and smoothly. When it was originally produced on the London stage they used a rotating stage but sadly Kibworth Grammar School Hall does not possess such a thing. Fortunately we do have a very inventive director and set designer (Alison Langrick and Andrew Dawes respectively). So hopefully the transformations will all work superbly.
We also have a large cast; lots of hard work goes into making sure that we don’t bump into the scenery and each other. As we all have busy lives to fit our hobby round it can be difficult sometimes to get everyone together for every rehearsal so we sometimes have to use stand-ins and we are very grateful to those who have smaller parts but who will play the absentees from time to time.
Another challenge we have to contend with is that Allo Allo is well known by lots of people who will be acutely aware of the performances by the likes of Gordon Kaye and, Guy Siner and Kim Hartman who made the show so memorable in the first place. However we are confident that KTC’s version of this famous TV show will do it justice.
There is a real buzz around rehearsals and personally it is a long time since I’ve enjoyed them quite so much. We have several new members in this production and it’s been good to bring is some new blood who have all integrated really well with us old ‘uns and of course we are so well marshalled by Alison.
We are confident that Allo Allo will be a wonderful success.
Martyn Wyburn (Rene)