So, as promised, here is the first of a series of retrospectives over the next few weeks. The order will be a little random and haphazard at the moment but given time I hope to settle into some sort of reverse chronology.
Anyway in honour of ‘All The Great Books (abridged)’, the eighth play that I have had the pleasure of directing with the Matchbox, it’s time to return to one of the great plays and the first I turned my directorial eye to at St Francis; indeed my first for over a decade, since I had directed The Canterbury Tales with a group of 11-14 year olds at school(more of that play anon though). Originally intended to be ‘The Importance of being Earnest’ in collaboration with Mr Gareth Hughes who flitted briefly with us and is pictured above, plans changed and March 2008 instead saw a rendering of J.B Priestly’s classic social commentary and magnificently paced dramatic work exploring issues of class, family, age and responsibility. Herein the Birlings’ blithe, seeming happiness is unravelled with the appearance of the enigmatic Inspector Goole and his investigations into the death of Eva Smith.
I do enjoy comedy but my real passion is the challenging and dramatic, something to get teeth into, that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats and engaged from start to finish and this production certainly offered that. I have memories of many compelling moments and true electricity on stage which is surely one of the reasons why so many of us do this. Although, that said, I equally have memories of a fresh face and a Fatty Arbuckle look when, bereft of anyone to play the younger Eric (cf. previous blog on the trials of casting men) I attempted to affect the look of a youthful twenty something. The results are displayed above, though these are by no means the worst images, a few of those can be found on the official site. The flaw in this plan was probably best summed up by the reaction of a group of students from a local girls school who were studying the play and who were no doubt expecting a hunky chunk to walk through the door…ah, the titters will remain with me forever. But so will many excellent memories of an excellent production of a fine play without which I suppose I wouldn’t be flitting around choreographing swordfights, arranging lifelike models of The Matchbox Sized Shakespeare lot and trying to lay hands on six dozen or so greatest books! Wouldn’t miss it for anything!
There will be more ephemera and memories next week but in the meantime look out for details of our 6th October Recruitment Evening in the next couple of days.