On Friday 1 April I went to the Citizens Theatre to watch the A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Play for the Nation. The production was part of the RSC Open Stages project that has been running for a few years now.
The RSC first worked with 23 clubs in Scotland, many of the SCDA members, in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland and the focus was on a range of skills development. It was a lot of fun and those of us that took part all got so much out of it.
In the 2nd stage the RSC worked with 8 clubs in Scotland – although they had space for up to 12 but the uptake was quite low despite lots of marketing by me and other voluntary organisations – there were a couple of SCDA members again who took part. The focus was very much on developing Directors and the partner was Dundee Rep.
The recent production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream included a small group of amateur theatre actors who played the mechanicals with Bottom being played by one of our members, Martin Turner, taking on the role of Bottom. Needless to say it was a fantastic production and I took away lots of things to consider for future workshops – all of the amateur players were amazing (as well as supporting Martin one of my friends was also involved in the role of Snout). The professionals weren’t bad either!
I really enjoyed the build up through social media, there was such a sense of occasion with small rehearsal snippets and interviews as well as quizzes and cast interviews. Although the RSC obviously have a department of people looking after publicity it struck me that this is something that is inexpensive and can really have an impact on your audience, assuming that they are using social media! Some clubs already do this very well I just wonder if it is all too easy to underestimate the impact of this kind of story building before the curtain goes up?
Related to this subject of amateur/theatre collaborations, I was interested to read a blog by Andy McGregor – if you are a member of Largs players you will definitely know him. Andy is an actor, educator, director, like many people working in the profession, and is asking questions about the future of theatre particularly when it comes to mounting new work and taking risks. He is talking about real collaborations with amateurs and his own perspective on what form that collaboration might take.
I do know that some clubs already work with professionals in many ways from skills development either from workshops with me or other tutors to employing professional directors. However the cost can be prohibitive and maybe some of Andy’s ideas, particularly if linked to box office income, might be attractive. This would obviously depend on a whole host of factors relating to size of venue and production but might be worth thinking about.
I would really love to hear what you think about Andy’s blog – maybe we could get a discussion going here on the SCDA website!!