I had met Elaine Graham on a couple of different occasions the most recent being at the Scottish final in Pitlochry where she told me about the newly formed Burgh Hall Players in Dunoon. As the Chairperson she was keen that they have a general drama workshop as soon as possible. Apart from giving people some skills to take into early productions, it would be an opportunity to attract some newbies and see who we could get through the door.
After some careful diary management we got a date in the diary and my adventure began with a short train ride and a slightly bumpy ferry crossing. It was certainly windy and a bit wet when I arrived but I was experiencing my usual excitement at visiting a new club with all the uncertainties of whether anyone would come to the workshop and if they did would they be happy to go along with the activities I had planned. I had opted to go over on the Friday evening even though the workshop was all day on the Saturday as I didn’t want to take the chance that the weather would scupper my journey. As Elaine was in the midst of home renovations I was made very comfortable at the home of Julie Forrester for the night and after an evening of talking all things theatre I spent a very comfortable night in Julie’s spare room. Thanks so much of your hospitality Julie.
Saturday morning arrived and we made our way to the hall – as people started to arrive we realised that we would have a nice size group – eventually there were 17 people which I think exceeded all of our expectations.
This workshop was slightly different as the introduction games are usually very much for me to try to get to know people quickly and get a feel for what people seem to like or not like In this case most people didn’t know each other well, if at all, so we were all in the same boat. As things relaxed one challenge that we did discover was that the echoey nature of the room made it a little difficult for some people to hear. We were able to experiment with this in the vocal exercises with lots of discussion about how to deal with the echo – soon realising that just being louder wasn’t always helpful.
It was a fun and exhausting day and the feedback session at the end was an opportunity to discover that some people who had never attended a drama workshop before had really enjoyed the experience. A couple of people were a bit overawed at the talent in the room and were unsure whether they would feel able to get onto the stage but hopefully Elaine and myself were able to reassure them. Community drama for both of us as Directors is very much about the journey we all go on together and we are both interested in working with people who want to have a go and are both enthusiastic and willing to try new things rather than the always casting the most experienced people.
I thought it was also worth mentioning a compliment I received (there is a reason behind this rather than my own ego). One person mentioned that he usually hates anything to do with games or warm-ups as it can often make him feel silly or vulnerable but the reason he enjoyed them in my workshop is that I was able to contextualise them and explain what each one had to do with performance. I believe that this is very important as I realise that people don’t always have the time or inclination for these kinds of activities but a few that are well chosen can get you somewhere quite quickly as well as set the atmosphere that you want in the rehearsal room.
As usual here’s some photos for you to get a feel for what we did and my thanks to everyone who made me so welcome and threw themselves into everything we did.
Until next time good luck to Dunoon who have already planned an evening of one-Acts in the Autumn.
See you down the road.