Thursday, 23 July 2009

More casting news!

What a brilliant start to the day!

I am very pleased to announce that this morning Mandy Humphrey agreed to join the cast of 'The Family' as Beth, the sister of main character Peter. Mandy will playing a pivotal role in the play and I'm absolutely delighted that I shall be working with her. You may have seen Mandy in the Archway Theatre productions of 'The Danny Crowe Show', 'The Crucible' and, most recently, as Dolly West in 'Dolly West's Kitchen'.

This now means there is only part to be filled: the Soldier. But it also means that we can start rehearsals on Saturday 1st August - if I have the Soldier by then that'd be great, but if not then we can make a start and it'll give me an extra week to find an actor.

Good times.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Casting announcement

I am extremely pleased to announce two confirmed cast members for 'The Family'.

Yesterday afternoon I was being a bit cryptic regarding the casting of Emma as I wanted to ensure that the unsuccessful candidates had been informed. Ella Sowton read the part beautifully in Monday's audition and, having seen her brilliant portrayal of Nancy from 'Oliver Twist' in Archway Theatre's Young Adults Performance 'Twisted Tales', I know she'll be a fantastic addition to the cast. I'd like to thank Katie Dunbar and Emma Ladd for auditioning for this role and hope that I am able to work with these talented actresses in the future.

I'm also chuffed to bits to announce that the role of the lead character Peter has been accepted by none other than Dan Woods. I choreographed Dan in 'Privates on Parade' back in 2007 and have been hoping to work with him again ever since. In fact, whilst writing 'The Family', Dan was the first person that sprung to mind to play the part. He's also got a part in the forthcoming 'Dick Barton' so there'll be plenty of opportunity to see him perform at Archway this autumn...!

Two down, two to go... There should be more news later this week - keep 'em peeled!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

It's audition time!!

I ended the last post on a cliffhanger about the auditions and, before I knew it, the evening of auditions was upon us!

Last night (Monday 20 July 2009) in the Archway Theatre Bar, a small group of us had a bit of a readthrough of the first act of the play. One of the male actors had called me earlier in the day to say he'd been called in to cover a shift at work and I shall be meeting with him on Thursday instead. Unfortunately, he would have been the only other male in attendance. Luckily, Emma Ladd had brought along her friend Phil who read all of Peter's lines - allowing me to be able to sit back and listen to the girls do their thang...!

For the role of Beth we had two auditionees: Roz Ingrams from the Young Adults Workshop, and Mandy Humphrey from the main theatre. I also asked Emma Ladd to read for her as well - more on that later... For the role of Emma I had three auditionees: Katie Dunbar and Ella Sowton from Young Adults, and Emma Ladd. In all honesty, I had been expecting a few more faces to show up - but that's the nature of the beast...! I'd already had emails and texts from various male and female potentials to say they'd not be auditioning - and they all seemed genuine in their liking of the play - but, sadly, due to time/work/commitments, they would be able to commit to the play. But I don't begrudge them at all - much better to bow out very early on than to dive in and find it becomes too much.

So we went through scenes 1, 3, 4 and 6 of the play (i.e. the first act minus the scenes between Peter and Soldier) with the girls taking it in turns to read. Very quickly I knew who I wanted to play Emma. Because I haven't told the unsuccessful auditionees their fate I shan't publicise on here just yet who has been cast - but I am happy to announce that I have a quarter of my cast confirmed! Hoorah!

For the part of Beth, Mandy Humphrey has asked for a little time to work out if she'd be able to commit to it, and I've also asked Emma Ladd if she'd reconsider playing the part (although she feels that learning the lines and the emotional weight of the character may prove too much - entirely understandable) andshe is going to take a couple of days to do so.

I'm hoping to be able to confirm the castings for Peter, Beth and Emma later this week, with Soldier shortly afterwards - watch this space!

Also, the first rehearsal has been booked for the Studio on Saturday 1st August. This hopefully also means that I'll be updating the blog on a weekly basis - it's all becoming real now...!!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Second Workshop

Has it really been that long since my last post? Oh dear, I knew wouldn't be very at this 'regular' thing!! On the assumption that at least one person is reading this, apologies for keeping you waiting!

When I started writing this blog I wanted to make sure I was honest and upfront about the whole writing-workshop-performance process and that's exactly what I'm going to do - especially about the second workshop...

The Second Workshop
...was a very different experience to the first workshop. The first one had a real air and buzz of excitement - a brand new never-before read script was about to be explored and the day as a whole was very positive with a lot of encouragement for me as a writer and for the play in it's own right.

That isn't to say I didn't receive praise and encouragement in the second workshop - because I did, and I'm incredibly grateful to those that turned up and supported the play. However, the second workshop was a lot more critical of the text. I don't want to sound like I only want praise for my work - far from it; the only way I can grow as a writer is to be criticised, questioned and pushed on my decisions. But compared to the first workshop it was a sharp sudden shock.

Some points raised were valid - a character called 'Josh' has had his name dropped as it's pretty hard to say when used in the sentences it was placed in (e.g. "Josh just disappeared..."); the indication of wealth from the description of the cooker needed revising. Then there were other opinion-based criticisms, and the questions, and the nit-picking. Frankly, at the time it just felt like an onslaught, and I could feel the patches appearing in the pits of my t-shirt with the shame/embarrassment/pressure.

But in hindsight I learned two valuable lessons:
1. Even the best work has it's flaws and it sometimes takes other people to point them out before you spot them, and
2. If they didn't think the play was worth it then they wouldn't have turned up in the first place!!

One interesting point was that the group didn't realise it was a civil war and thought Peter had returned from abroad. This has meant a few clarifications and additional dialogue early in the first act but hopefully it should work.

The best outcome was that the play, based on the draft seen at the workshop, has been approved for performance. Hoorah! I'm going to keep rewriting and working on the text throughout the rehearsals as I'm sure things will need to change but we'll see...!

More to come later about 'Auditions' - check back this evening!