This is another new venue to the Countess Wear Community Theatre and one that wasn’t ready for Shakespeare if audiences numbers are anything to go by. With fifteen in the cast and not quite twelve in the audience, sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it.
I was momentarily reminded of a performance of ‘Speaking in Tongues’ that was taken to the Brixham Theatre by the Shiphay Amateur Dramatic Society last year. There four of us performed to a very small audience, and there again I was forced to consider why we do it.
In the world of the amateur stage it isn’t for the money, so it can only be for the performance. Through the course of this run more than any, I’ve realised that I like the rehearsal process, I like the camaraderie, but I’m not really bothered about the performance. I enjoy working through the material, but whether somebody’s paying £5 or £15 to see the finished product doesn’t really matter to me anymore.
After a few years as a publicity officer and a chairman of a local group, it was all about bums on seats and making sure costs are covered, my role at that time depended on it. Now I alternate between performer and consumer, these are other people’s worries, which has left me trying to get the most from the experience that I can.
Which is where leaving the contact lenses at home was a bad idea. Oh, I know, I’ve blogged about leaving lenses at home before. But this time it was too late for me to go home and get them. For this show I had to play it blind, like I did in the old days. It was performance full of nostalgia.
I could raise an eyebrow at co-stars in the knowledge that their reactions wouldn’t make me laugh. I could look at the audience and not see anyone (alright, that was partly because there was nobody out there, but you get my point). I could enjoy the delights of hiding a pair of glasses somewhere on my pocketless costume to aid quick sight restoration the moment I came off stage.
I also had to learn a few more lines. You see, I’ve taken having contact lenses very seriously. I’ve indulged in that habit I’ve seen others enjoy through the years. You know the one, when you have to read something from a piece of paper, so you can actually have those lines written on a piece of paper?
The was a ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ a couple of years ago where I was dischuffed to have to learn a letter because to read it was to have to hold it a couple of centimetres from my nose. Everyone else cheerfully read their letters, but not me, I had to learn mine.
Nowadays, I’ve slacked off the line learning. If it can be read from a scroll, it can go on the scroll. Clearly this isn’t only my view, as the props department kindly provided a scroll that contained, not just the titles of the plays on offer for Theseus to choose from, but also the lines that go in between them. So you see, the production team actively encourage you not to learn the lines. That’s my excuse. Well, one of my excuses.
Of course, the speech was delivered without a problem. What surprised me was the reactions of my co-stars, who seemed to think the performance was more regal, less flustered and a lot calmer for my not being able to see. Quite frankly, they only just fell short of saying, “You’re better at this when you can’t see what you’re doing.”
So, less than a dozen people saw what the cast thought was my best performance of the run. A performance that I couldn’t see myself. Pfff.
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Last post in the ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ series: The Proper Road Trip
Last review of the Countess Wear Community Theatre: Jack and the Beanstalk
If you’ve been to see one of our performances or would like to share any stories about small audiences or not being able to see what you’re doing on stage, do feel free to share your comments below.