Sometimes it’s worth wandering around a set. There’s been a couple of sets at NTC that I’ve appreciated a lot more after a walk around. The Water Child set had some really clever flat placements – there were angles where you didn’t expect them and it all helped make the world of the play more edgy. The set for All My Sons was a ‘foley sound’ set -the gates, the gravel, the doors all contributed sounds that added to the realism. Going all the way back I could also talk about the set for Summer of the Seventeenth Doll or Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!
Walking around the Lost in Yonkers set tonight I began to notice a few things that are to the credit of Matt Lockyer and the construction team. There’s the quality of the painted finishes for a start – the floor is a highlight. And then there’s the little things. The big entrance on stage right has been cheated down to a doorway. With a door. That fits perfectly. The skirting board that circles the room at waist height isn’t made from timber. It’s painted.
The company has a history of quality sets and this is another of them. Well done to all involved.
Lost in Yonkers runs for another week.
One of the features of working at NTC is that we like to debrief a production so that we can keep doing what works and fix what doesn’t. The debrief for Rabbit Hole on Tuesday 5th April proved valuable on both counts.
Particularly pleasing was the improvement in bump-in and bump-out. There were some issues raised during the Heartbreak House debrief about the need for communication and coordination and it looks like people were listening. Between them, the casts of Company and Rabbit Hole managed a particularly smooth bump-in.
With three and sometimes four productions in rehearsal at once the need for shows to talk to each other is key, and this was a feature of the Rabbit Hole rehearsal period. When there were issues, phone calls and discussions meant they were dealt with quickly and cooperatively.
Every production has problems to solve and this production was no different but because Leslie as Production Manager stayed on top of the job, met the deadlines and communicated clearly with people, problems were minimised or effectively dealt with.
Organisation and communication was key to the success of this show and this showed at other levels. The art exhibition was one of our most successful but this was the result of a lot of contact and communication between the artist and the company
One thing everyone noticed about this play was how it gave people the chance to talk about their own experiences with bereavement and loss. In the foyer, anyone working for the company noticed these conversations and often joined in. It's an indicator of why we need to do plays like this one and Women of Lockerbie. The people who committed to the journey that was the play seemed to get more out of it than a good night out. At the debrief, a lot of attendees noted the reception of the play from members of huge public and the experienced theatre community.
Plays like this may not pull a crowd like a farcical comedy but it is essential that they be part of our season because of the way they affect everyone involved.
There was particular praise for the lighting, sound and set construction. With only four days to get in, it took a lot of planning. On technical notes, the new headsets worked well once people were accustomed to them. There were questions about the location of the condenser microphones that were installed on the stage. While this is being looked into, it's clear that we may still need to do some work to better co-ordinate technical equipment particularly.
Around the table, there was a lot of comment about how this was a 'dream' play, with an harmonious cast, strong direction and leadership, great audience reaction and critical acclaim. All in all, it's agreed that it was an exemplary production which showed what's possible in this company.
What an impressive turnout! What a great event. Five writers, five directors, eighteen actors, two hard-working techies all combined to put on a varied, entertaining evening.
In no particular order, here are some of the highlights.
Matt Halliday’s title, the longest PIAD title yet: sortakindadontuwannawundacaressingbeauty.
Emma Wood’s dancing, as Jade in the Ex factor.
Richard Murray playing a complete bastard. Twice.
Georgie Morgan and Heidi Dempsey in pigtails – it took me a while to work out why.
The crowd. The audience was the biggest we’ve seen at a club event in a long time.
Noel Grivas’s sound effects. He issued the challenge on the way out on Friday night and writers took him at his word. The poor man didn’t even get dinner he was so busy making the effects all work.
A headsetted John Wood (channelling call centre workers everywhere?) as combined stage manager, event organiser and director. Nice work, John.
Tracey Owens as Lainie quietly dumping extra rubbish onto the floor of her sister Sue (Jan Hunt). Meanwhile, Sue ranted about the mess left by the teenaged Erin (Georgia Woolford).
Alex Jacobs. How many of us are ever going to get to say, ‘My last role? Sex drive!’
New and unfamiliar faces. Welcome Sharnee, particularly. A bravery award goes to Simon Tonkin, who drove up on Friday night from the Central Coast to write, returned the same night and drove back up the next day. Simon, you’re welcome to bring a sleeping bag next time!
I know that many of those who attended will have special moments, too. Please feel free to add to the comments!