Wednesday, 23 April 2014

There it was, gone...

And then it was the last night.  Just like that.  All that work, all that effort from cast and crew alike, done.

On the last night, I was a punter.  A genuine Bona Fide punter.  I had paid for my ticket and two others at my table as well actually and had the front table for my family.  This obviously did not mean I could slack off my other duties, like ensuring the furniture was in the right place and correcting the picture that my stage crew would always hang wonky, just so that I could straighten it out, or to annoy me, you choose.  So I still was there to greet all of our 84 guests plus 3 walk ins (yes, that's right a sold out audience!) including NODA who were there to review for us.  Just as we were going in for our 5 minute (10 minute) call, I went to talk to my cast.

After the initial protests about punters not being allowed in the dressing rooms, they quietened down so that I could say a few words.  Which I tried to do.  I attempted to tell them how proud I was of them for bringing my play to life, I think I got to proud before my voice cracked.  Jenna came to hug me which of course made it worse which them made the cast very happy and I ended up in the middle of a woods group hug.  Charming eh?  They delighted in making their Writer/Director cry!

And then it was time.

I think I had found a kind of safety on the stool at the back of the room, I had the knowledge that I had DZ in my ear and I could tell the lighting dude when to take the lights up or down (even though he knew what he was doing completely).  I had a kind of blankie that I now had to let go of, so my nerves were even worse as we sat down.  I have to say (yes, I realise I've said it before) that it was excellent.  Being in the thick of the audience was brilliant.  I got the atmosphere that I had missed out on being on my stool and could feel the tension in the crowd, it was palpable.  Just as I had wanted when I wrote it.  The gasps, screams in some cases and the overall nervousness of everyone was awesome.  I spent part of the time looking around to see how engrossed people were and they were hooked.  It was amazing.  I was even close enough to see the tear fall from Sophie's eye as she delivered her final line.  Beautiful.

I managed to get out first to pop off to see the cast who has performed their socks off all week for me and to tell them all how wonderful they were, cue voice cracking and tear welling again.

And it was done.  Or was it?  The Woods lot were a little disappointed that we didn't enter the festival along side the zombies and had been nagging me that we should take it to a festival.  So we are, we will be applying to appear at the Woking festival on October and then probably again at the Runnymede festival after that.  DZ has also invited us to come and perform with his group The Fringe Files in September in Somerset so we get a practise run before the festival too.  Yay!  Road Trip!!!

All that remains for now is to thank everyone, if I forget anyone I am truly sorry.

To start, I thank my cast, they have been amazing to me, understanding, professional, dedicated.  I couldn't have asked you all for anything else.  My crew, backstage, front of house, catering, lights, sound, box office, again you all made this a very easy and pleasant journey for me.  Our audiences, thank you for coming, for taking a chance on two brand new plays by unknown authors and for paying your hard-earned to support local theatre.  I appreciate it so much and hope to see you at other shows we do.

Finally, to my mentor and guide on my first writing/directing outing, Director Zombie.  It is what it is because of your support, which I obviously will completely forget when I'm collecting my Olivier award...

Song of the day - Kate Bush - This Woman's Work

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Getting our Curry on

I love the Friday night of show week, it's normally a good crowd and we have our traditional curry night, I always preferred this to the after show parties!

In fact our audience on the Friday night was of Saturday night proportions!  74 tickets sold.  Absolutely amazing!  We flogged the hell out of this show and it was well worth it!  It was a shame not to sell out, but I'm quibbling about 6 tickets, some people are never satisfied!

Now for this show we were operating a closed door policy, so once the show started, no entry was allowed.  On this particular night it there was a couple of tickets left on the door for people I knew.  I um'd and ah'd and said to FOH that they could come in if they arrived in the first 10 minutes, then realising that I couldn't make exceptions I said not to let anyone in.  Said people arrived about 10 minutes after the performance had started and were refused entry...  It had taken them 2 hours to travel from Central London which they had done to see my play - I felt so bad afterwards, but I had to stay true to the rules right?

Another solid performance from my wonderful cast, although my heart was racing the entire way through it as normal, I thought that it might get better as the week went on but no, I was still a nervous wreck until it was all over.

The curry afterwards was a raucous affair (as usual) with the hobbit and his BFAM leading the way, including everyone becoming Lord Muslington of Kent by the end of the evening and reinventing the Mexican Wave.  The staff in that place must think we are crazy, well they are probably partly right when I think of the folk that were there...

Song of the day - Patsy Cline - Crazy

Thursday, 17 April 2014

And again please...

I did try and write some more of this blog yesterday whilst away on my holidays but wasn't getting any internet so it had to wait again, but I'm here now and we're going to have a wonderful time...

Where were we?  Ah yes, Thursday.

I had a few peeps in the audience on Thursday and we had a total of 57 tickets sold.  With 4 walk-ins, that brought us up nicely to 61.  Crazy Thursday night figures!  My big bro was the last to arrive and I'm so glad I told him 7.45 start as I'm sure he would have been late, family eh?

Once again, I was sat on my bar stool with the cans on heart thumping out of my chest for the entire performance, I had moved back with the growing crowd so I wouldn't disturb anyone if I needed to speak.  Once again a truly solid performance from my brilliant cast.  I'm not sure I could have cast it better.  Thinking of all the actors I had at my disposal, I think I picked the strongest team possible.  They were utterly professional, dedicated and focused for all our rehearsals and it showed in their performances completely.

My colleagues, who were in the audience, most of whom had been completely bullied into coming, were incredibly complimentary and thought the play was brilliant.  Yay!

Song of the day - Lifehouse - Halfway Gone

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Opening night nerves

Finally, opening night had arrived.  The Hobbit always likens directing a show to being a football manager, once the team is across the white line there isn't much else you can do.  You've trained them, guided them and then they're on their own.  Great words of wisdom but they didn't help the nerves I felt as we went into our first paid performance.

Lighting Dude had set up a set of cans (headphones that let the technical and backstage crew communicate) by the side of the hall so I could talk to him, Director Zombie (as the sound guy, not about the weather and that) and our pretty awesome Stage Managers.  I got myself a stool from the bar and made a home for myself for the next couple of nights.

We had a reasonable crowd booked in, 43 for the opening night of a play was pretty good, all that hard work pushing ticket sales had been worth it.  We had told the audiences to be there for a 7.45 start, even though my plan was to start at 8!  People do have a tendency to turn up just as the show starts and I wanted to be sure that they all had time to grab drinks and visit the loo before the show started as we were not going to be letting people come and go whilst the performance was taking place.

7.45pm Lighting Dude gave a 15 minute warning for drink buying and loo visiting, then another at 7.55pm.  I went to see my cast and told them all to break their legs.  Then we were off.

I sat on my stool with my heart thumping the whole way through.  My head was telling me not to be nervous as it knew my cast were totally in the zone, but my heart ignored my head completely for the duration of my play.  The cast were fantastic, as always and the punters seemed to love it.  It was great to finally have a fully live audience, they laughed at the funny bits, gasped at the scary bits and sometimes reacted in unexpected and unexplained ways.  Nowt queer as folk as they say up north.

Performance 1 out of 4.  Done!

Song of the day - Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren - Goodness Gracious Me (look it up on YouTube)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Counting down to launch.... 10... 9... 8... 7... 6...

And then it was all over...

I did have every intention of blogging last week during the run of the show but it just wasn't possible to fit eveything in, what with making sure everything was ready for our paying audiences and having to actually work during the day, there just wasn't enough time in the day!

Let's catch up shall we?  Here's an overview of the lead up to opening night, I will blog about the performances separately.

Sunday 30th March - Mothers day/Set Build

Unfortunately our only set build fell on Mothers Day for this show, luckily we still had a good core of people down to muck in and get on.  We had a lot to do.  We had to get the set up, paint it and dress it, put up the walk out (stage extension), set up the front of house boards, prepare the catering for the paying nights, set up the dressing rooms, rig the lights and programme them in, Michael and I also needed to get car sounds recorded, some screaming and he had to programme that all in to his sound box.  To help us cope with all of this, Jenna had set up "Harga's House of Ribs" and prepared bacon and egg sandwiches for the workers (eggs from our chickens too!), I had also made a cake but we would have that later, bacon, egg and cake sandwiches are not pleasant, not that I've tried them of course...  ahem.  Anyway, as usual our technical rehearsal did NOT start on time (they never do), but the "Lodgers" were done and out by around 10.30-11pm.  A pretty long day as the majority of us had arrived at 10am!

Song of the day - The Beatles - A hard days night

Monday 31st March - Dress Rehearsal

Full make-up, full costume, zombies watching.  Nice run through with lighting and sound pretty much there.  Cast and crew very happy.  Mr FOH and Chairman were watching and they thought it was excellent.  I just hoped we hadn't peaked too soon.

Song of the day - Damien Rice - All Dressed Up

Tuesday 1st April - OAP night

Once we had an oap night which I retitled "Only Aight People" as we only had a few turn up, not so this time.  27 in the audience which was great although they do have a tendency to treat every show like panto and think that they are free to join in and shout at the cast.  I'm not sure the Lodgers were massively happy about that!  However, it is for free and we do make the oldies happy (I think, sometimes it's hard to tell) or at least give them a cup of tea and a biscuit and a night out.

Song of the day - Kris Kristofferson - Help me make it through the night

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

And now, the end is near

That's it then, my final rehearsal with my fabulous cast.  I've some everything I think I can and now it's up to them.

I wanted to get three run throughs in last night, knowing as I do that we probably won't get to run it through on Sunday at tech rehearsal.  Yes, I know I'm a slave driver but they'll thank me for it in the end, won't they?  We got off to a slightly late start, in part due to the excitement caused by the appearance of a chocolate cake, made by someone who couldn't lay in on Sunday morning!  This was a late celebration of Caroline's birthday and Kelley's birthday last week that I hadn't had a chance to bake for.

Partway through our first run, our fabulous make up lady arrived to help do a trial run for my team, lucky she did as a lack of communication between her and I had created a slightly different look than I was going for.  Luckily, it's easily sorted.

We had additional props tonight, one in particular that was absolutely necessary and worked so very, very well.  It was a very well spent £8!

We got all of the runs in that I wanted to, followed by the walk down so everyone should know where they are standing at the end to take their bows.

I am so very proud of them.  They have worked so hard on bringing my play to life and I couldn't be happier with them all.  Over the next few days I will be working on the behind the scenes stuff.  We need to push ticket sales, still a little way to go to target, I know that it will pick up but I'd rather it did before show week so I can rest easy!  So if you are reading this and you haven't bought your ticket yet, come on!  Give a girl a break!

Song of the day - Europe - The Final Countdown

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Two left

On Thursday we had our penultimate rehearsal, oh my goodness, just two left - well, one now! 

There's still so much to do, the Hobbit and I will be dedicating most of this weekend (aside from a couple of dinners out and a yoga class) to the show and everything that goes along with it.  As you know I made a list, I'm going to have made several more lists by the end of the weekend I'm sure.

Tickets are selling, with more sold every time the box office is checked, which is great,but we are very Saturday night heavy - in fact Saturday night is completely sold out!  I'm so pleased but just now need a few more tickets to be sold on the other nights, I'm sure that it'll come, we are still over a week out so there's still plenty of time, isn't there?

Anyway, back to rehearsal on Thursday.  Have I said that I love my cast?  They take direction extremely well, know their lines, know their blocking and are completely a team.  I'm almost sad that we don't rehearse twice a week like plays usually do, not that Team Ghost actually need the extra rehearsals!  It was Kelley's birthday on Wednesday and I had hoped to make her a cake but I just didn't have time during the week, I will try to squeeze that in on Sunday and surprise her on Monday, unless she reads this blog and then it wont be a surprise will it?

We had two good run throughs with light and music.  I love the music I have chosen for the show, it really sets the atmosphere and who doesn't love a polka, right?  We were going to do another run through but I decided to let the cast go early, they have worked so hard over the last couple of months and I know they're ready, it's just about tightening up in a few places, I really can't wait to see the finished product.

We are rehearsing on Monday next week - our last one - and I want to definitely get three run throughs in.  I have asked the cast to come pretty much in the costumes that they will wear for the show and I want to try to get props in as much as possible so that they have a chance to get used to them before we go into show week.  Again, another job for the weekend.  Right, I have to go do box office stuff now with the Hobbit and I'll blog again after Monday anyway.  Oh, have you booked your tickets yet?????

Song of the day - Michael Gray - The weekend