Or at least Charles Arrowby – the protagonist and narrator of Iris Murdoch’s novel The Sea, The Sea. And Charles, a retired director, playwright, and sometime actor, has a lot to say about the theatre… Continue reading
Frantic days, hectic week. We’re debuting Carlo Emilio Gadda’s Quer Pasticciaccio Brutto de Via Merulana (That Awful Mess on Via Merulana) on Saturday, and we have dress rehearsal in little more than an hour, and everything – but everything – has happened, ranging from the hilarious to the highly depressing, so much so that we weren’t even quite sure we could début at all until the other day, and is this ever a run-on sentence! Continue reading
Well, not really. It’s not that I’m going to take up acting again. Rather, I’ve acted again after… what, twenty years? It goes like this: as a teenager I decided that I wanted to be an actress, and began to take drama classes when I was sixteen. I happened to find a very, very good teacher – one who had the patience to draw me out and drill me hard. With rather good results, if I say so myself. I worked hard at it for four or five years, thinking that I’d go on with it, and go professional… Continue reading
One cold afternoon upon a time, we entered – the Squirrels, and Gemma, and I – a theatre in a small town around here, to settle in for a performance that night.
It was ten minutes to four, and I had arranged to meet the electrician to fix the lights, and we had a few pieces of scenery to mount. After which…
“We’re doing the lights first thing – but look, I want a tech rehearsal afterwards,” I warned. “If I can’t have one, there will be murder.”
Of course, they all said in round-eyed innocence. Of course I was going to have my rehearsal. Who did I take them for? And, after all these years, how naïve must I be? Gentle Reader, I believed them. There was plenty of time, I blithely thought – and cheerfully set to work with the electrician, while the men mounted our rostra. Continue reading
Back when I worked as an assistant-director with a small company, there was this time when the director got sick, and I was left in charge of an open-air performance of a play about Odysseus coming home to Ithaca…
No, not that time. Same play, same company – but a different open-air stage, at a rather huge Roman reenactment. Only, beside directing, this time I was also substituting the actress who played the Wise Athena, Odysseus’ patroness, more or less…
I rather hated it, and my costume was of an orange so loud it hurt to look at – but frankly, it was the last and least of my troubles. Continue reading
Oh, I’m in a tetchy mood…
So last night we played Shakespeare in Words in a little town here around. I limped there in the wake of a minor but painful accident, and we had to readjust a few things around the Chorus’s impeded mobility, and we had no technical rehearsal at all – but still. Continue reading
Backstage, precisely – and the accurate – if hilarious – portrait of onstage and backstage life that is Peter Bogdanovich‘s Noises Off, based on Michael Frayn‘s play of the same name. I must have been all of thirteen or fourteen, when I was first introduced to the vicissitudes of the troupe of Nothing On, and found them a hoot. Jaded director Lloyd Fellowes and his cast and crew are less than twenty-four hours from first night, and desperately trying to hammer in shape their new farce imported from London. Except, Nothing On is dismal fare, the actors are not, but not ready, doors won’t stay open, sardines are never where they should be, cues are missed, lines forgotten… Continue reading
Some – or perhaps most – books one reads for the sake of what it say on the tin – algebra text-books for the sake of algebra, romance novels to enjoy a love story… Then there are those books one reads for… something else.
Take for instance Ngaio Marsh’s mysteries. Continue reading
Last night, after rehearsals, it was far too hot to go home – and, the rehearsals having gone passably well, we weren’t in the mood to disperse yet anyway. So we sat, more or less in the dark, in the garden of our makeshift rehearsal room. We sat in a circle, and began to tell each other the combination of Sonnets 55 and 81 that ends the play.
We all said it in turn, the game being to do it as differently as we could from the person before us. Again and again we said it… Continue reading