Whilst voyaging through Facebook I came across a selection of posts from the above named site which I thought needed to be shared! Focussed primarily on the lot of the backstage team, these are brilliantly observed insights into the challenges that arise from responding to the whims of ‘visionary’ directors(or to put it another way moody dictators) and the vagaries of actors.
Anyone who has pressed a button under duress, arranged a prop or climbed a ladder to sort a gobo will find something to laugh at and even if you haven’t, many of these scenes will not be unfamiliar. Find more here:
Hope you enjoy.
Rehearsals are well underway for our March production, ‘Mary Stuart’. Epic in scope, this historical piece set during the last days of Mary Queen of Scots (played by K Isom), explores manifold themes which are as pertinent today as ever they have been- devotion and duty, patriotism, religious zealotry, terrorism and the relationship betwixt the auld enemies Scotland and England. At its core the play focusses on the complex relationship between Mary and Queen Elizabeth (Gill Challenger), and the dealings of those men and women politicking and manipulating behind the scenes each with their own very specific agendas- honourable, misguided or wholly corrupt.
Jeremy Sams’ punchy, contemporary translation of Schiller’s seminal work provides plenty of opportunity for cast to sink their teeth into some meaty, complex characters and powerful scenes. Taking my directorial cues from George R Martin’s series of novels, and the hugely successful television series, after which this post has been named, ‘Mary Stuart’ is set to be an engaging, dramatic and compelling piece of theatre building on the considerable success of last year’s season. More details will, of course, follow but do keep an eye on this space, I can promise a lot more to come.
It has been a while since last I dipped into the vaults and pulled out a bit of nostalgia from Matchbox past. And so, with the start of a new year, it seems wholly appropriate to do so now and, with my own return to the cloisters of education, what more apposite piece than our twenty fifth anniversary celebration John Dighton’s ‘The Happiest Days of Your Life’. A revival of the Matchbox Theatre’s first ever production back in 1981 (and if there are any anecdotes or photos from that show I would love to post them here), it was a joyously fast paced and farcical piece set post war where, as a result of space shortage, Hilary Hall boys’ school finds itself forced, with virtually no notice, to house the staff and pupils of St Swithin’s – a girls’ school. Cue petty arguments and naughty tricks between the sexes, romantic attachments and good old fashioned comic farce, especially when one set of boys’ parents and one set of girls’ parents turn up, and every attempt is made to keep them in the dark. Very much a piece in the Ealing vein it was well received and proved capital entertainment for such a special occasion.
Although a staple of many amateur dramatics groups farces are a rarity in the Matchbox canon but when done it is invariably done very well indeed. This was a fitting anniversary tribute, marvellously staged, well cast, energetic and comedic. Involving both young and old members of the group it is good to see some maybe long forgotten faces here as well as some warm reminders of dear friends. As is often the case such pieces also act as a fly in amber reminding me of youth, oh for a Dickie Attenborough to do a bit of DNA manipulation.
Still, the memories are reward in themselves and I have delicious reminders of Gill channeling Margaret Rutherford as Miss Whitchurch, K’s wonderfully ebullient and tenacious Miss Gossage entrapping my Rupert Billings in the days when I could still play a carefree young bachelor about town, a wonderfully serpentine red and yellow scarf (glimpsed above), some great character turns from a host of the Matchbox great and good and a damned jolly good time being had by all. A true triumph under Pat Williams’ direction, it serves as a wholly apporopriate piece with which to begin this year’s remembrances and to signal a wholly successful year on stage ahead. Here’s to it.
And more of that anon.