16 October 2006

It's all over

Yes, it's true. It's been some time since I posted on this blog, though I have been updating the other one fairly prolifically (in an attempt to avoid reading about neuroscience!). In fact, the last time I blogged was on the Thursday (5th October) of the performance, so I have rather a lot to catch up on!

I got on top of my nerves and managed to stay relatively calm, though probably not by normal people's standards. I did find myself pacing (normal for me), and muttering to myself (also normal), and occasionally laughing, a little hysterically when people tried to calm me down. The kids arrived, almost on time, and went through their lines, they put on their costumes (which all of them remembered to bring the constituent parts to, thank god), and they were ready to go.

I have never felt quite so nervous as when those opening bars of "School's Out" played in the Rhoda. Well, maybe I felt more nervous last year when I was sat waiting for the tabs to open for Auras, but this was another type of nervousness - there was nothing I could do now, but wait, and hope that the kids could carry it off after our 4 months of hard work.

They did really well. There were a few hiccups with the lines, when Ollie skipped about a page, twice, but showing what true professionals they are, the rest of the cast picked up on his cue, and the play went on as scripted. Not even the adjudicator noticed (I don't think...). The audience (mainly, it seemed made up of people I knew) laughed at all the right places, and even in some places I wasn't expecting. They really responded well to the action on the stage, and seemed quite uplifted afterwards. When Suzi did her "Oggy Moxon" speech, I was so proud I was almost tearful, and equally when I heard the audience clapping at the end it made me go all shivery. Forgetting the mishaps with the script, they did brilliantly and I was very proud of them all.

Then to the adjudication... Now, one of my biggest downfalls is that I don't take criticism very well...I don't like letting people down, and I especially hate the feeling that I have let myself (and my expectations of myself) down. Egotistical it may be, but there we have it. Looking back on it, maybe I entered the festival for the wrong reasons. I wanted to direct something, I wanted to do a youth production, and I wanted to have fun doing it. I sort of forgot that people enter festivals to win things. A lot of the criticism was based on things that the adjudicator would want to see done differently if it was going to win prizes. I took it (at first - it always takes my 24 hours to sort things through in my head, and I'm happier with it now) personally, and felt that she had missed the point of what we'd tried to do. In hindsight, I'd missed the point of being in a festival. Anyway, her main criticism was that the characters were a little clich├ęd and we needed to find depth in them in order to gain a better understanding of them. Fair point, but the audience laughed, so I achieved my goal.

I set out to do this, many moons ago (god, almost a year ago I started thinking about directing...) to enjoy my first directing experience, to let the kids have fun doing a play, and experience a festival, and make the audience laugh. I achieved all this, (I hope) and that's what I have to remember!! The Committee are considering my proposal of doing both acts of Teechers in Brook Hall, some time next spring, and I am hoping, following the positive feedback that this will go ahead. We shall see anyway...

Following the Thursday, I then went to three other nights of the Festival. Saturday saw The Dissidents (headed up by Wilf and Sue) and "Poke Your Cup", which was a funny take on the whole festival thing. I wondered (having read the script) what the adjudicator would make of it, but she took it well, and ended up awarding them with the Adjudicator's Award for the sheer brazeness of Lianne and Mitzie's "gratutious characters". Also on the Saturday was Pyrford Little Theatre and "Playhouse Creatures", by April de Angelis. I really enjoyed this, though the lighting let it down badly. Helen Imison (Nell) was fantastic, and went on to win Best Junior Player. The following Thursday was the turn of the adult OP contingent, with "The Man in the Middle of the Road", a new play by Paul Foster. I enjoyed this, though I agree with the adjudicator that the script would work better on television (being my father's daughter, I can imagine a lot of cutting between the outside and inside shots, with moody lighting and a dark sound track) sorry Paul. There were a lot of strong performances, namely Alison Byers as Claire, and Nicky Breslin as Gregson.

On to the all important awards night... Three plays were recalled, Woking College with "Home Free!", Thorpe Players with "A Night Out", and Lighted Fools with "A Number". I had seen Lighted Fools on the Thursday, and it was fantastic. A twohander, with incredible performances by both men. I really enjoyed it, though it was a little heavy to watch twice in three days! Thorpe Players were good too, a very classic comedy, and nice and light! Woking College, however, were in a different class. "Home Free" is a very complicated (well probably not actually) play with some really challenging themes. I suggest you click on the link rather than have me try to explain it. Again, two people, this time a young girl and boy, around 20 at most, who were just amazing. Charlotte Newton John (yes, apparently a relation to Olivia!) won Best Actress for her role as Joanna, Claire Nevers won Best Director, and the play went on to also win Best Youth Play, and Best Overall Play. It was unbelievable: there was an awful lot of talent on that stage.

And as for Teechers? Well, we didn't win anything... But, Jack got a nomination for Best Junior Player for Salty, which he definitely deserved. Ok, so we didn't sweep the board, but we pulled off a good performance, and had fun doing it... And wasn't that the point after all?

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