ABC of Am Dram – D

ABC of Am Dram – D is for …

more helpful tips for your amateur drama and community theatre productions by Bev Clark –  director and playwright.

theatre-direction

D

DIRECTION: The director is essential the one in charge – the captain of the ship. It’s his or her vision for the piece that is to be brought to life. A good director has a strong relationship with their designer and production team – working together to achieve the best possible production. There are many types of directing styles.

The dictator is strong, assertive and dominant and can be rather abrasive and lack tact and diplomacy. Rehearsals are controlled and predictable where the actors having little or no say. This style can sometimes stifle creativity but on the other hand in an inexperienced group and can get the job done.

The negotiator may use a more improvised approach to rehearsal and is more democratic in shaping ideas with actors and production team the ideas. He/she favours collaboration but there can arise a situation where there is no overall control.

The creative director sees him/herself as an artist working with the ‘materials’ of dramatic creativity; performers, designers and production team. The “creative artist” wants input from the actors but has the final say over what is included and how ideas are to be incorporated

The confrontationist is in constant debate with the cast and the production team about creative decisions and interpretations. This director may seek out and actively engage in strong exchanges, which can sometimes be heated or risky, but may produce a challenging experience and production.

There is no right or wrong way to direct, in the end it’s what works for the company and the production – remember always the PLAY IS THE THING and it’s bigger than any actor or any director.

DRAMATIC ACHIEVEMENT

Does a play achieve what the playwright, director and cast set out to achieve?

A comedy must make us laugh – if it doesn’t, then it matters not how good the set and costumes are or how solid the blocking -its purpose is to achieve laughter or at least a smile! A drama may do many things -make us cry, make us angry, make us feel afraid. So essentially, achievement is about an emotional response. Do we care about the characters? Do we believe them and the story?

A play can present a fabulous set – the lighting and sound can enhance this and make it a truly sensual experience. We can marvel at the director’s imaginative interpretation and the actors’ obvious skill. All of this can give us a good experience but if we are touched, moved, struck by the impact of the very essence or heart of the piece it has truly achievement its dramatic potential. for it is our audience that must be our final judge and jury. If they leave the auditorium satisfied, elated, overwhelmed then the production has done its job.

DIALOGUE

This is what sets the narrative apart for the story is told to us through the words of characters or in some cases a narrator. Dialogue should be natural and economic and delivered with energy, purpose and intelligence. DICTION is something which must be correct – there is nothing worse than not being able to understand an actor because of bad diction.

The DEVELOPMENT of both characters and plot must be evident and something the writer then director are responsible for. Characters are on a journey, the plot has to go somewhere. Of course there are exception, some forms of absurdist theatre don’t really show an obvious development – nevertheless the cast and director must find a satisfactory conclusion to the performance.

DRESS REHEARSAL

It finally arrives – all the hard work in the different departments can now be seen – all the excitement, often the panic, very often the let down when everything seems to fall apart but usually if the DRESS IS A MESS THE SHOW’S A SUCCESS.

We often vow NEVER AGAIN but after the curtain falls on the final night we are desperate to start the process all over again.


Bev Clark is a Playwright, Director & Drama adjudicator who has worked all over England in both professional and community theatre. She has been writing original drama scripts and directing plays for many years.

A selection of her theatre play scripts are published on Scripts4Stage.com


ABC of AM Dram – C

helpful tips for your am-dram and community theatre productions by Bev Clark –  director and playwright.

theatre-concepts-abc-am-dram

CONCEPT – Every production should have one.

Of course some plays are just what they are on the page and it’s very hard to see any other way of presenting them but a good director, working with his/her creative team will find an original way of producing their own vision – whether you are setting Richard III in World War 2 or Alice in Wonderland in a futurist cyber-world, a modern version of a Dickens tale or setting a straight play to music.

No audience wants to see the same old thing over and over again. (Do they?) Much more exciting to do something new and unique. So be creative and let your imagination work overtime and do something different.

CHARACTERIZATION / CARICATURE

Nearly every play will have a cast of characters and whether they are stock stereo-types like the lord of the manor, the wealthy widow, the young helpless heroine and the handsome hero or they are three dimensional realistic characters – they will all have characteristics we recognise as being part of their own character. In naturalist dramas characterisation can be harder to portray, as human beings are shades of many colours and emotions.

When you approach any character you must try and think how they would behave, how they would think, speak, walk and sit etc. The answer will nearly always be in the text. The writer, if he/she hasn’t given you a description, will have given you clues in the dialogue. What your character does and says helps to give you something to hang your performance upon.

A CARICATURE is a representation in which the subject’s distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque effect. We see this in satire and other forms of comedy and pantomime but sometimes in forms of Epic theatre as in Brecht.

Dramas are often made up of CONFLICT, CRISIS, CO-INCIDENCES and reach a CLIMAX or CRESCENDO which is normally either the last scene of the penultimate scene. The plot line tells the story by a series of builds and changes in the dynamics of the play keeping audiences interested, engaged and entertained.

These flash-points or conflicts can be internal or external. They are usually about man’s relationship with another human being, society, the world at large or his own inner-self. Most plots either make a journey from A-B or come full circle back to A again.

For an actor, three more C’s are worth remembering; CONCENTRATION. COMMITMENT. CONFIDENCE … Oh, and always learn the CUE lines so you pick up on them and even if you get most of your lines wrong remember to give the right CUE to your fellow actors.


Bev Clark is a Playwright, Director & Drama adjudicator who has worked all over England in both professional and community theatre. She has been writing original drama scripts and directing plays for many years.

A selection of her theatre play scripts are published on Scripts4Stage.com


ABC of AM Dram – B

Amateur Drama tips by Bev Clark

am dram theatre a to z of amateur drama tipsB is for …

BELIEF – believe in yourself and they will believe in you! Self-belief is confidence in your ability but not to the point of being over confident and trying to steal the show. Make your performance honest and truthful – even if it’s a farce or an absurd comedy – because the audience must believe you are real in the character you portray.

BLOCKING – That thing the director does when he or she tells you where to stand and when to move.

DON’T get blocked in or down by blocking. A good director will let the actors find their way around the stage naturally before laying down any firm moves. Of course, the bigger the cast (and set) the more ridged you have to be with your shaping. When to move and when to stand still is very important. Make sure as actors you don’t pace or hover or rock from side to side. Make a move a proper move with purpose – not just for the sake of it.

BODY-LANGUAGE – So important because so often the actor’s words say one thing but their body language is saying something else.

Think about the way your character would sit, stand and walk. Would they move quickly or slowly? Not only does the character determine this but also the mood and emotion as well as the environment they find themselves in, Directors need to be doing useful exercises on movement and characterisation to make the character’s body language as well as their voice believable.

BREATHING – speaking of the Voice, actors need to feel competent that they can sustain their breath enough throughout a performance. It is not just about projection – throwing the voice – but learning how to control the voice in emotion. It is easy for the emotion to take hold and the words to become inaudible. This may be realistic but no good in a performance if a whole speech is lost.

Breathing exercises can help an actor through the emotional roller-coaster of soft and loud and for all those long speeches. Warming up the voice is just as important to an actor as it is to a singer in the same way a dancer wouldn’t go on stage without warming up their limbs.


Bev Clark is a Playwright, Director & Drama adjudicator who has worked all over England in both professional and community theatre. She has been writing drama scripts and directing plays for many years.

Some of her original drama play scripts are published for licencing on Scripts4Stage.com


A B C of AM Dram – A

Brand new poetry – london tripping by Bev Clark

Brand new poetry of the month, a poem for October published today on Scripts4Stage.com

London Tripping by Bev Clark

London Bound photo by Sheri Jones for London tripping a poem by Bev Clark

London Bound photo by Sheri Jones (c) 2015

LONDON TRIPPING

All the world it seems is rushing:

Pushing, shoving; moving forward.

All the world is ever-waiting:

Buses, trains and planes…and queuing:

Endless queuing! Just to “ENTER”

Shuffling forward just to “EXIT”.

read the full poem on Scripts4Stage.com

A B C Of Am Dram – A

English: Plymouth : Theatre Royal A view of th...

(Photo credit: Lewis Clarke – Wikipedia)

A B C of AM DRAM

by Bev Clark

So here’s a little run through the alphabet for all those amateur groups planning on putting on a show.

A IS FOR AMATEUR but that doesn’t mean there has to be anything low-grade about your production or your performances. Just because you don’t get paid you can still give a professional performance and be as good and sometimes even better. Remember – the Titanic was built by professionals and the Ark was built by amateurs so believe in success.

A IS FOR AUDIENCE who should always be your first consideration. They are paying to come and support you and they deserve the best you can offer. You may not have the money for elaborate sets and costumes but if they can see you have put hard work and effort in and are enjoying what you do, they will come back again. Make their experience a good one from the time they enter the theatre.

A IS FOR AUDITORIUM Whether it’s a village hall seating a hundred or a state of the art theatre. If it’s a studio space or an outdoor venue the auditorium must allow the audience to be comfortable and to see and hear the performers on the ACTING AREA — which may not be a stage in the traditional proscenium –arch sense. If you are able, think of interesting ways you can present your production by using theatre-in-the round, traverse, thrust or promenade.

A IS FOR ACTION. It is often forgotten that to act comes from action. Quite often directors have their actors sitting opposite each other talking, without considering how boring this can be for an audience to watch. Of course a great script and brilliant actors can captivate an audience without moving but most plays need movement to drive the action of the plot along. Always consider – is the audience going to be entertained or moved by what’s happening in the plot?


Bev Clark is a Playwright, Director & Drama adjudicator who has worked all over England in both professional and community theatre. She has been writing drama scripts and directing plays for many years.

Some of her original drama play scripts are published for licencing on Scripts4Stage.com


About

bev-clark-playwrightBev Clark is a writer, director, workshop leader and adjudicator who has worked all over England in both professional and community theatre. She is now devoting more of her time to writing for the stage – her first love. As a director she understands that not only must a piece work on the page, it must have the vision to be performed on a stage – often only with a bare minimum of a set.

Bev has been writing and directing her own plays for many years and now wants to be able to share her work with other groups, directors and audiences.

in 2009 Bev’s play Remembrance Day was successful in the All England Theatre Festival reaching the semi-finals and was licenced by NoDA. It was performed at The Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight and Heswall Hall on Wirral, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, Saltburn in Yorkshire and the Rhoda McGaw theatre in Woking, Surrey. It was placed third that year in the Geoffrey Whitworth playwriting competition. In 2014 it was performed by Swavesy Radsoc at the Sawston Drama Festival and also at the Cambridge Drama Festival. It was later performed by SNADS at Sturminstor Newton Dorset. You can view images from those productions in our Performance Gallery

We are now licencing a new updated version.

Her play Bentley: Road To Justice  was originally an idea by David Crosby and the script was developed from his research and from workshops run with a group of community actors who came together because of their interest in the Derek Bentley case. This play is largely based on his sister’s long fight to clear his name in the forty years that followed. This also reached the semi-finals of the all England Theatre Festival and was also placed third in the Geoffrey Whitworth Playwriting competition in 2011. The play was performed at The Gladstone Theatre, Wirral where Bev won Best Director. Grange over Sands, Cumbria and Todmorden in Lancashire.

After The Dream, a full length comedy drama was written for the Royal Shakespeare Company Open Stages in 2012 and described as “Ayckbourn meets Shakespeare” . This production was designed to be an open air production touring parks and gardens across Wirral but the weather in 2012 was very unkind and performances were transferred to inside venues where it received much acclaim. It was also performed at Contact Theatre, Manchester, The Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, Ness Gardens Cheshire and Melrose Hall, Hoylake, Wirral. Bev was nominated for NODA North West’s best director award.

Stealing Me, a comedy commissioned by a local company for the Leverhulme Drama Festival in 2008 won the adjudicators award for overall presentation in Sound & Lighting.

Bev has worked for many years with youth theatre including the junior theatre at the Bristol Old Vic and she was presented to Her Majesty the Queen in 2011 in recognition of her work with young people. In recent years she has composed and directed a community musical – All Along The River (2008) and won acclaim as a director of The Importance of Being Earnest (2010) The Crucible (2013) and The Winter’s Tale (RSC OpenStages 2015) She has adapted and directed A Very Victorian Christmas from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (2013) and presented part of her new work which will be available from New Flight Publications soon – The Flood (2010) which is part of The Modern Mysteries for Schools (available Autumn 2015) and Give Me Love one of vignettes from George Harrison Suitcase which she hopes will be available for licence soon.

Bev has run many workshops including a course in Devised Theatre for the International Baccalaureate conference at Warwick University on Peace One Day (2013) She is currently directing a piece on Modern Slavery as part of TheatreFest 15 on the Isle of Man October 2014 and directing her first film “Free to Be” this year.