Carole – SCDA 90th Anniversary Celebrations
I headed up the to Pitlochry on Friday 22 July in preparation for the SCDA birthday party on Saturday 23rd. Although we could go and see the matinee and/or evening production on the 23rd I decided to go with my first love, musical theatre, and see Carousel on the Friday evening. I met some SCDA folk for dinner in the theatre – lovely set menu designed specifically for the Carousel audience – and headed into the auditorium. I’m no reviewer so this is just my opinion but I can say there was lots to recommend this show. I wondered how they would manage to cast the show with such a small company but by and large it really worked. It was a shame that the ballet was taken out but completely understandable. There are so many demands on musical theatre professionals today and my only quibble really was the singing from some of the soloists. Everyone could sing well but contemporary voices are trained for the pieces today and pop/rock style singing doesn’t always do justice to the wonderful tunes of Rogers and Hammerstein. It was great to see a small orchestra positioned behind a gauze and interesting picture frame – my bottom lip was quivering as the harp chords started up for the well-known standard You’ll Never Walk Alone. However the star of the show for me was undoubtedly the design and technical aspects of the show. No spoiler here but the way they managed the Carousel and the integration of the ‘children’ into an all adult cast was ingenious. If you do go let me know what you think.
After a very comfortable night in a lovely B&B, The Fir Trees (highly recommended) it was back to the theatre on Saturday for an 11.30 am start. Although the promise of ‘afternoon tea’ was a little strange bearing in mind the timing, this was done to allow people to go into the matinee if they wished. As with all SCDA events everyone was chatting and mingling straightaway – swapping stories and memories. The display was contributed to as the morning wore on with clubs bringing along their own memorabilia. Lots of photos, old programmes, reviews and news articles. It was really fascinating and lovely to see some of our more mature members pointing themselves out in production photographs from many years ago.
It’s such a lovely bright function room at Pitlochry and the sun was shining down on us through the windows – you almost feel like you are seated outside due to wall of windows. Very nice sandwiches and cakes, fitting for a light lunch.
Speeches were kept to a minimum which I appreciated but all the important things was said. I was genuinely surprised when Jackie singled me out for a mention – it was a very nice thing to do! It would be impossible to thank all of the volunteers throughout the years who have contributed to the ongoing success of SCDA but I think Jackie did a great job!
The highlight for me was probably listening to Martin’s talk about his experiences in the Midsummer Night’s Dream with the RSC. Although I had been there at the very beginning my involvement wasn’t necessary as the production moved on so there were lots of things that were new to me. It’s a shame for those of you who missed it as it was not only very amusing it was also interesting to hear about how this kind of huge project was executed.
I believe it was Susan Wales who asked a really interesting question to Martin at the end – had this experience made him want to become a professional actor. Good question! Martin’s simple response was ‘no’ and that he was getting back to his club and the things he really loves, directing and acting. Martin is a very talented and committed amateur theatre-maker and having glimpsed everything that goes around the rehearsals – publicity, measuring, interviews he doesn’t in any way envy the professional actor of today. He has got loads of things from the experience and hopefully will bring those back into the club.
If you take the title ‘professional’ it conjures up an image of someone highly skilled and potentially being paid for the job. ‘Amateur’ means ‘for the love of it’ and is unpaid. Although every club has constraints governed mostly by whether you can cast your show, a club has much more freedom to choose their play and how they want to rehearse and produce it. They often get to know their regular local audience in a way that a professional company/actor never can and don’t have to take any job that comes up in order to make a living.
So what would you rather be – amateur or professional?
There is also a moral to this tale and that is that you should read SCDA emails and SCDA newsletters as I pass on every opportunity that I find and Martin only knew about the RSC project through an email sent out to all members by us!