Bouncers – Week 1 – Read through

… and we’re back on the merry-go-round!

This time we’re doing Bouncers by John Godber, a very clever play, very unlike anything our little theatre group has done before.

I’m very excited, we’re stretching our comfort zone and testing our audience. Not in any sort of massive way but this play is definitely something different.

And the best thing of all is that we are not afraid to try it!

Anyway… the play. Gethyn’s directing, I’m Stage Managing. Sound guy is in talks, as they say. The cast is Jeff, Mike, Anthony and Andy.

Which, so far makes me the only female. A female Stage Manager with an all male cast, playing bouncers, no less!

You’ve got to laugh! Priceless!

First read through was this week with rehearsals starting in earnest next week. What a read through: snapping pace, and actors switching characters in a blink of an eye. Wonderful stuff… this really is going to be a great play to rehearse, and has the potential to smack the audience right between the eyes.

Highlight of the night? Four fully grown and very-definitely-men men putting on girly voices. Died laughing. They were naturals, totally nailed it.

Roll on Monday …!



Being prompt…

… or if you’d rather the more PC term, ASM (Assistant Stage Manager for short).

We are currently rehearsing a play for our summer production – A Life in the Theatre by David Mamet. It has 2 actors and 26 scenes which means, from the prompt’s point of view, a whole heck of a lot of line learning!

And it’s not easy dialogue. Lots of mms and ahs and yeses. And the conversation is not really telling a story it is a display of the ebbs and flows in a relationship between two men.

I’m glad I don’t have to learn it!


Which makes the fact that these two blokes are more or less pretty much book down six weeks from opening night all the more impressive.

Yes, they are stumbling here and there, but still, they’ve had pages and pages of fairly uninteresting conversation to learn and well… I’m in awe!

Well done, chaps!


Prompting can be a pretty thankless task and at times you do feel like banging your head against a brick wall, but it is all worth it in the end when they get through a run through of the play without needing a prompt.

That is what being prompt boils down to – the less you are needed the better.

The big bonus of being prompt – for me anyway – is that, because I have no creative responsibility then I can just quietly watch the production come together as the weeks go by.

Don’t get me wrong, in this little society we all chip in with ideas all the time, but when prompting the creative success of the play is not resting on my shoulders like it does when I am acting or directing or stage managing.

It is not a job I would want all the time, because I like getting my hands dirty and being creatively involved, but to do it occasionally is great fun.

And it also reminds we what being prompt is like, to bear that in mind when I am acting and on the receiving end of some barb or other!



a sad farewell … until we meet again

The community theatre society I belong to suffered a great loss this week.

One of our dearest and longest standing active members passed away after a short lived battle with cancer.

He was the one and only Jim Grove.


A soul that shone bright with a fierce sense of the right way to do things. It applied to everything from securing a flat to the stage, to how to stock the theatre bar, and even as far as running the country. Whatever was going on should be done right.

A gentle and extremely kind man.

A generous man with both his time and his ideas, and everything.

A man who twinkled with enthusiasm when something took his fancy. Be it a set that challenged his set-building skills, or a political idea, or something to do with his allotment. Jim twinkled when he liked or agreed with something.

I could go on for hours and I only new him in a theatre capacity. He was a man with a family of several children and grand children. He had a professional life before retirement. He had a great many facets and talents.

Jim Grove was one of those rare things: a man of deep rooted decency and a gentleman.

He is a man I am proud to have known, and prouder still to have been able to call a friend.

Good bye, or rather, au revoir … may you rest in peace.



Taking a break

There’s nothing quite like an evening spent reading, curled up on the sofa with the hound and a glass of wine!

I’ve been between plays for a couple of months so I’ve taken the chance to make a dent in the pile of play scripts I’ve allowed to build up.

I have a mixture of classics, obscure, new and old plays. Six in total.

The Second Mrs Tanqueray by Pinero

The Hound of the Baskervilles bySir Arthur Conan Doyle adapted for the stage by Simon Williams

Dial M for Murder by Frederick Knott

Spider’s Web by Agatha Christie

Rules for Living by Sam Holcroft

The Kingfisher by William Douglas Home

Hopefully I’ll get some inspiration for future projects!

I also went  to Copenhagen for a long weekend and found a theatre museum. A lovely little place, full of photos, costumes, wigs. And a beautifully ornate auditorium. Gorgeous!

It’s the end of the hiatus now, though. Rehearsals are underway for the summer production of David Mamet’s ‘A Life in the Theatre’ and I am prompting – time to crack the whip!



RRG – week 15 – It’s SHOWTIME!!!!

Monday – dress rehearsal – not horrendous, far from it, but that ball game will be the death of us! If we get it right every night it will be nothing short of a miracle. We had the sound effects for the first time ever which caused quite a bit of hilarity. And I had a rose bush from which to pick roses… the set really is incredible, lots of lovely little details!

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Wednesday – opening night – technical issues with sound, a new amplifier has been ordered. About a 3/4 house, you could hear them listening and chuckling to themselves with the odd belly guffaw. Great energy in the theatre tonight and it really souped up our performances, precisely what we’ve been needing for the last couple of weeks! Oh, and we nailed the dreaded ball game – huzzah!

Thursday – a smaller audience, but a livlier audience. Better quality you could say 😉 They arrived determined to enjoy themselves! A couple of prompts were needed by my cast mates, and Caron and Gethyn got a fit of the giggles after Gethyn needed the best prompt in the history of prompts (the line ‘ah’ had escaped him), but another top notch performance. Mike accidentally squashed my head against the bench during our clinch – payback for all the damage he received up against the wall in Theft apparently!…. what can one say to that? I stumbled off stage and did my costume change in fits of laughter!

Friday – near as damnit sold out, and a lovely responsive lot they were too. A great smooth performance tonight. No technical issues and no prompts. Rock on!

Saturday – the last night – even nearer as damnit sold out, and by far the best audience we had all week. They laughed at every single joke, out loud. Our performances really went up a notch because of it. A very special last night indeed, even if I did drop the ball when I shouldn’t have (I was very surprised it had not happened before then, to be honest!). After the show we did the usual staying for drinks in the bar afterwards and gave the director our thank you gift – an apron quilted by Jeannie and signed by us all, Peg wore it for the rest of the night!

A bunch of us then hit the pub and we stayed so long they actually kicked us out! I drove the other ladies home and what with the clock change last night I didn’t get home myself before 3 am… yes, I know, dirty stop out!

Great fun though!


(even if I am completely knackered now!)


On a side note, a point of interest, BBC Radio 4 on Saturday afternoons for the last three weeks has been broadcasting a radio version of all three Norman Conquest plays, and on this Saturday (the afternoon of the last night) they broadcast ‘Round and Round the Garden’. I have been listening avidly each week and this one was no different. I listened to it in bed this morning and it was a little peculiar hearing my own lines in another voice performed a little differently! Wonderful stuff though, had me laughing even though I know it backwards – I will have to seek that out and buy it if I can.

That’s all for now folks!



RRG – week 14 – the final furlong

First off – it has been brought to my attention (thank you Peg and Caron!) that last week’s post failed to mention two extremely funny happenings that contributed to the ‘beautiful chaos’ I was talking about:

1) that Mike knocked over a flat. We all watched dumb founded as it fell in seeming slow motion to land on the bench. Thankfully no one and nothing was injured, but it was pointed out, rather dryly, that perhaps that ought to be the next thing secured in place!

2) that the script calls for Caron (playing Ruth) to have great difficultly opening out a garden chair. During the scene, that pivotal moment  came around and the chair opened out as smooth as butter spread on warm toast. It was a thing of pure beauty and completely wrong which, or course, had us all in stitches! …

Now to this week, aka the final furlong:

Two good runs through, we’re coming in at about 2 hours in length, which will mean curtain down comfortably before 10 pm. All good stuff! Also the set is nearly finished – final push this weekend – Jim and Brenda who have designed and built it and it looks amazing – again! A house with bricks, and a garden with plants (none of them live (phew!) to keep in with the old theatre superstition).

I can’t believe this is coming to an end already… 14 weeks! Where has all that time gone? Well, you know what they say about time when you’re having fun, and we’ve certainly had that on this production. What a blast! And, because we all knew each other before we started then we really did turn into a proper little family. It is going to be so weird not seeing all these wonderful, thoroughly lovely idiots twice a week!


There’s Mike and Gethyn, with whom I have the majority of my scenes and both have been a joy to act with. With Mike my character, Annie, tends to be very vulnerable and he and I have been bouncing off each other like a dream. He comes up with these lovely bits if business that just add soooo much that you didn’t realise was there.  And Gethyn – such perfect comic timing. I am much more tense and uptight with Gethyn’s character, so he gets all of that thrown at him, and he is so amazingly vague in return which is exactly what Tom, his character is: vague and dim. Really lovely stuff – who knew such embarrassing awkwardness could be so much fun!

Then there’s Jeff and Jeannie, with whom I share ‘window scenes’. They are not in the script but something Peggy, our director, dreamt up. We had an amazing time coming up with our fake conversations that no one will ever hear, and daft bits of action. Jeannie and I also have this brilliant moment at the end of the play where she is ranting and I quietly put her in her place. Directly afterwards we have this stare-down that lasts a couple of beats and it has been a point of mine of try and make her laugh during that moment. Jeannie laughs so easily – so amusing! Little things please little minds, as they say!

Caron, my excellent friend who is playing my older sister and nailing the making-baby-sister-feel-bad bit. We have had great fun throwing sarcasm at each other. If you can’t bite chunks out of your mate then who can you (to quote Peggy)???

Anyway, next week is show week … may we all break legs!


…. oh, and by the way, if the boys don’t walk off with this play I will die of surprise on the spot – they have spent the last 14 weeks trying desperately to one-up each other! Hilarious!



RRG – week 13 – actors in need of an audience

Another week of act 2 twice, then act 1 twice.

There is some tightening up of lines needed all round but basically we actors are in need of an audience! We’ve reached that point where we cannot tweak anything any more, the director’s happy, the actors know what’s what and what not and we just need to know whether it’s funny any more. We’ve heard all the gags a thousand times and we just need fresh eyes and ears in the auditorium.Good job opening night is a week and a half away… 😀

The lights and sound effects started being used in full this week. Lights going up and down and sounds both where they aren’t supposed to be as well as where they are. Trial error is the only way to master it, same as everything else in theatre but it doesn’t half make it all a bit chaotic. Beautiful chaos!


Next week we are going to run the whole play from top to bottom, interval included at each rehearsal. This helps us get a feel for the thing as a whole and it also gives an idea of running length. Each half runs for about an hour but what will happen when we run both halves one after the other…?