Never a group to rest on our laurels, it didn’t take us long to spring straight back into preparations for the club’s summer production, Shelagh Stephenson’s ‘The Memory of Water’. Those of us that had acted in ‘The Madness of George III’ found ourselves returning to our regular rehearsal space just two weeks after having said goodbye to it – and once again we made a beautiful job of transforming Tesco Community Room into a cocoon of creativity.
After the challenge of a twenty-five strong cast, ‘The Memory of Water’ is more of a return to form, as this time we shoot down to six roles. The play is heavier on the female side – four of the characters comprising a mother and three sisters – so we hopefully anticipated a large turnout of women – and we weren’t disappointed.
Indeed, we were delighted to be greeted with both old friends and new faces. While waiting to officially begin proceedings, we had time to reminisce with those we knew and become acquainted with people we were meeting for the first time. Despite having previous HDC productions under my belt, I typically find audition-time to be rather like the first day of school – i.e. an amalgamation of eagerness and curiosity with a small dose of nervousness added to the mix. As someone who hasn’t read the play, I was mentally turning over various questions – who are the characters? What are their relationships? What fresh new talent do we have? How is this going to pan out?
Any nervousness that anyone might have felt was soon allayed by Josephine, who introduced us to the basics of the piece by giving a solid background to the play and the characters. You wouldn’t know this is Jo’s first venture into directing; she had the straightforwardness and encouraging demeanour of someone who has done this dozens of times before.
Nor was she let down in terms of casting; as auditions got underway, it soon became apparent that when it comes to talented actors, she has an embarrassment of riches on her hands. She has a fine pool of women to choose from, along with enthusiastic performances from the men in attendance. The entire audition procedure was both enjoyable and thrilling – though, being the quiet, polite soul that I am, the highlight for me may have been a scene in which I was able to raise my voice and curse another character out.
An excellent start to the process of ‘The Memory of Water’ – I’m sure that’s a portent of good things to come!
by Guest Blogger Michelle Gibson. ‘The Memory of Water’ runs from July 21st to 23rd. Tickets on sale now.
It’s been quite a year for the club – one that has taken us from a Beverley Hills hotel room (California Suite) to a seemingly cosy, quiet patch of ‘Little Britain’ (Neighbourhood Watch) via the pre-fabricated, industrious huts of Bletchley Park (Breaking The Code). Ticket sales this year have increased with every production and our Autumn show smashed through that magic number of 300 in online sales alone.
Now we want to take this momentum through to 2016 where two of our three plays are already in place – Mark Hebert will direct ‘The Madness of George III’ by Alan Bennett which will be our Spring production & for our summer show Josephine Hussey will make her directorial debut with ‘The Memory Of Water’ by Shelagh Stephenson. The autumn play will also be announced in the very near future & a director is already lined up to take charge of that one. In April I’ll be taking all three of our directors to a workshop at the Donmar Warehouse in London, where we’ll find out how the professionals run a rehearsal room.
The success of ‘Breaking The Code’ in July proved that there is an audience here in Huntingdon with an appetite for challenging theatre, who are prepared to take a risk and try something a little different from the norm. We have taken this on board, whilst always remembering that first & foremost we are here to entertain and that a night at the theatre should be interesting, thought-provoking & stimulating but most of all enjoyable. Our 2016 season will provide all those things.
Another very exciting project in 2016 will see us performing at the Cambridge Drama Festival in April. It will be a great opportunity & challenge for our cast & crew to perform in a new venue, to a wholly different audience. With our increasing ticket sales we are also adding matinee performances next year. We think the added choice of a daytime performance will be popular with local community members and it also offers our cast an extra performance. Many a time have I heard the comment “three performances just aren’t enough”!
So, lots to look forward to in both the immediate and long term future. Auditions for the Spring play are in January and you can find more info here. On the social front we are heading to Milton Keynes in February to see our good friend Richard James in the touring production of David Walliams’ ‘Gangsta Granny’. For now, have a wonderful Christmas & here’s to the ‘madness’ in 2016!
One thing you can guarantee should you choose to partake in any type of outdoor activity over a British Bank Holiday weekend – it will rain. FACT. But such are the peculiarities of our climate that it’s also very possible that a grey, relentless, soaking drizel can stop completely during the time it takes you to wander through the Shakespeare’s Globe foyer, buy a poncho & take your place as a Groundling in the yard for the afternoon. And so it proved for a select band of HDC members for Saturday’s sell-out performance of ‘As You Like It’.
There’s something really special about the Globe – a combination of it’s fabulous location overlooking the Thames, the unique look and feel of the theatre itself, the smell of ale & barbeque that wafts over from the bar and the warm & friendly welcome afforded by the staff – far less informal than you’d expect from a London theatre. This uniqueness can also be felt amongst the audience – if you can bear to stand for the duration of a play then buy a £5 ‘groundling’ ticket – it’s how plays at the Globe should be experienced and gives you the best view of the action.
This was my fourth production at the Globe – I’ve yet to see a bad one. In fact, they have all been excellent. ‘As You Like It’ was no exception. It’s not my favourite Shakespeare – the play takes a long time to resolve itself in the second half as seemingly endless pastoral characters are being paired off. Touchstone is a difficult part to get right (as arguably are all Shakespeare’s clowns) but Daniel Crossley plays it enjoyably straight. It also features one of the Bard’s greatest speeches and James Garnon as a low-key Jacques delivers it with freshness & clarity. As ever at the Globe, the whole cast perform with an energy & vitality that is a marvel to watch and fills this huge open space – no mean feat, as anyone who has ever acted in an open air space will know.
Michelle Terry is outstanding as Rosalind – a firecracker of a performance made all the more impressive in the knowledge that this would be the first of two performances she would give that day. Her mastery of the language, vocal power & control and combination of verbal wit & physical comedy were a wonder to behold. But plays at the Globe are never about ‘star turns’ – they are company shows in every sense. Even Jonathan Pryce as Shylock in this season’s (also excellent) ‘Merchant Of Venice’ comes across as another member of the troupe, not an expensive star addition to the billing. Throw in a wrestling match (with the fight instructor replacing an injured actor at the last minute) and Touchstone leading the funniest dance routine I’ve ever seen in a classical play and the 3 hours of ‘As You Like It’ whizzed by.
As is becoming traditional, we retreated after the show to the nearby Porky’s BBQ for dinner & drinks before heading back to Huntingdon & home. Our next theatre outing is planned for July – Alan Bennett’s ‘The History Boys’ at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. It’s a really good way to get out and see more theatre and so much nicer (and invariably cheaper!) to go with a group of like-minded folk, so do try & join us next time. Watch this space for details!
A review of our Meet and Greet by Josephine Hussey
On 19 March we had our first social gathering since the AGM and the new committee were elected. We ventured to the Falcon in Huntingdon for a drink and a chance for everyone to meet the committee.
Our meet and greet was an enjoyable evening. Lots of members turned up and we spent the hours in the pub swopping ideas for what we want to happen with the club and productions over the next year.
It was great to see people were excited by some of the ideas thought up for social and the other aspects of our group. It was also fun to chat, get to know more people and feel the enthusiasm other members have for the club.
Our next social is a play reading of ‘Noises Off’ at St Mary’s Parish Hall in Huntingdon on 16 April. Come along and enjoy reading and listening to a very funny play.
We’re just over a month into rehearsals for ‘California Suite’ and, as to be expected from a play which is primarily a comedy, it’s a lot of fun. If the amusement from the cast and director can be any kind of barometer, then come 23rd April, the audience will be rolling in the aisles.
Having attended all of the Drama Club’s productions in the last year, I’m by now no stranger to the high-calibre performances that are always delivered, so it came as no surprise to find that my fellow cast members were a wonderfully skilled group.
Like as I would to extol the virtues of every actor, doing so would turn this blog post into a dissertation. So for now, suffice it to say that the interplay between Tony and Caroline is splendid, Scott is putting on a delightfully furious show as the indignant Mort, and Dean is going to have everyone in stitches with his portrayal of the hapless, panicked Marvin.
It’s great to be a part of it all. I look forward to seeing the play really come together in future rehearsals.