Passionate about: Theatre-Fine Art-Rational Discourse-Good Books-Bad TV.
Doing things with your hands is therapeutic.
One should never stop learning and questioning.
Actively involved in:
The dramatic community in Dubai.
The Old Library in Dubai
I get involved in as much as I can to promote a love of reading and thinking.
Monday, 31 March 2014
How to choose a short play or rather how I came to be directing Anton Chekhov’s “The Evils of Tobacco”
some time now I have been an amateur theatre critic via this very blog. You may
have noticed that I have an inordinate amount of fun doing this; however, I
have had, for some time, a little niggle of guilt. I should have been born
Catholic for all the guilt I carry around. What it takes the Catholic Church
years to instill I was born with. But I digress, as usual.
did know that at some point I would have to stand up and be counted, as it
were. I really could not keep on as I have been, going about
telling people what I thought of their productions and acting ability.
I could not, in all good conscious, keep on criticising the very heart of
people’s creativity without, at the very least, giving my fellow Drama Darlings
the opportunity to return the favour. Which poses a dilemma because, I would prefer
not to put myself out there at all - being the reclusive sort. Not shy,
please note, just reclusive. Add the fact that I have not done any
theatre work for quite some time and have in
the back of my mind the fear that if I don’t get back into it I will lose
whatever expertise and ability I may have had. Or worse I may have lost it
already. With this going on inside my head I had to have a stern talk with
myself “For heaven’s sake, get a bloody grip you silly woman.” I admonished my
inner wet blanket. “It is way past time that you got back into the theatre
been roundly self-flagellated I was on the lookout for a play, a place and a
producer. At about the same time as I was mulling all this over I saw that
Dubai Drama Group were calling for directors for an evening of short
plays. Good (or is that bad?) timing. A short play to get my hand back into the
game was exactly the ticket. Excellent! I contacted the Dubai Drama Group and was
sent the link to the web page and saw listed there a handful of plays; a combination of
Chekhov scripts and modern plays. I already had in the back of my mind that
I wanted to do Edward Albee’s “Zoo Story” and I tentatively approached DDG and
asked if I could direct that rather than the plays on offer. I could! This had
me very excited. My excitement was short lived.
Story is a hard play and casting has to be just right and I am not a good
enough director to take a change with a two hander on unknown quality in terms
of actor’s ability, especially as I have enough hubris to think that everyone
that I have criticised is going to want to be able to do the same back. Oh my Ego.
The audition saw several mighty fine pieces presented but I wanted actors that
I already knew (from previous performances) could do the show. This is (I
believe) a rather lazy trait in me. Partly as a result of this I
could not cast my two men. I had a combination of men in my head that would work
but I could not get the pairing I so desperately felt I needed.
auditions presented a number of very talented actresses auditioning
for the other plays. Cliff Single, the Chairman of DDG, suggested that I put
Zoo Story aside and see if I could find another play, possibly one that utilised
some of the lovely ladies that auditioned. Good plan B I thought. I cast
my net about for a short play with between 2 and 5 women. I contacted my peeps
at Harare Reps Theatre. I contacted my Peeps in Gaborone. I trawled the Internet.
I contacted professional Drama Darlings in London and said “eek help”. I was
put on to a play written by a friend of a friend so I logged on to Samuel French had a part read of Henna Nights by Amy Rosenthal and
loved what I read. I ordered the play foolishly thinking that I could download
it……. Hummm delivery would take a while longer than I had available to me. I was pretty sure I
would love the play from what I had already read but this being Dubai I could not commit to a show without knowing what the full script would
contain. Oh dear, on and on and it goes my darlings. High drama before you even
hit the stage.
time running out and a need to get rehearsals started and knowing what other
plays were already going to be included in the evening Cliff suggested, ever so diplomatically, that I take
up Anton Chekov’s “The Evils of Tobacco” as it was in line with two (already in
the show) themes; Smoking and Anton Chekhov. Not the way I would normally choose
a play but hey sometimes you have to switch it up. I am very glad that we did.
was most lucky that Toby Masson, who I had already cast in Zoo Story, agreed to
leave the idea of Zoo Story for a while and take up doing a one hander,
something that was new to him. I have found over the rehearsal period with Toby
that this production has become a very collaborative piece. I am a fairly
dictatorial person so this was a bit of a departure for me. I think we have both rather enjoyed the process.
We have had a couple of joint rehearsals with the other productions. This has allowed us the opportunity to see all the plays performed that will share the
stage with ours in a couple of weeks’ time. I can safely say that if you come
down to thejamjar between the 8th and the 12th of April
you will be treated to an evening of delightful and enjoyable theatre. This
eclectic mix of dramatic styles will showcase two Anton Chekhov plays and two
modern plays. Two plays that include smoking, one a bit tenuously and two that
include romance, again one a bit tenuously.
am trying to build up a bit of curiosity in you in a bid to get you to come
down and see for yourself what I am rabbiting on about. Let’s not pretend here
that I don’t want your bottoms in the chairs at thejamjar, because I obviously
do. I want packed house every night. I want people banging at the doors begging
to be let in. Having said that I also
know, in fact I am very sure, true as
bob and honest to god, that when (please note when not if) you
come to thejamjar you will thoroughly enjoy what we are putting on. You will
leave refreshingly invigorated and wanting to see more theatre in Dubai.