The patrons who turn up in loyal support of amateur theatre groups have no idea, generally speaking, of what goes into making their entertainment possible.
There?s no reason why they should have. Indeed, it is better that they remain in happy ignorance. I shall always remember how the late S J Perelman, the American humorous writer, assured me that the secret of good writing was to sweat at it and make sure that the seams don?t show.
It?s the same with theatre. You beaver away with your production problems so that they will have sunk without trace by opening night.
But sometimes one receives a privileged hint of the browfurrowing cogitations that have preceded the plaudits ? and there is an example in the current newsletter of the Lapworth Players.
The Players? next production will present the considerable challenge of the Christopher Fry classic, The Lady?s Not for Burning. Director Terry Powderhill writes of the amount of study needed to present the poetic language in such a way as to make its deep meaning plain and bring the complex characters to life.
But there is more to it than that ? because the play will be presented in Lapworth Village Hall, ?partially in the round, on a three-level raked acting space.?
The set, it appears, will start on the hall floor, rise up on to rostra at half the stage height and rise again up to stage level.
This is why the Players? committee is considering buying more wheeled folding rostra, similar to those it already possesses, except that the new ones will be dual-height affairs, to offer extra adaptability.
The audience won?t suspect the half of it ? but there?s more. The Players have done a massive rewiring of the lighting circuits in the hall, and this has come hand-in-hand with the realisation that the lighting controller that they acquired second-hand from another theatre two decades ago ? and which survived catching fire ? has reached the end of its reliable lifetime.
The committee is now being asked to buy a computerised control desk, which will make it easier for lessexperienced people to help out behind the scenes.
Be assured, everything will be achieved without making a ripple, let alone waves. S J Perelman ? who died in 1979 after a writing career that spanned half a century and included scripts for the Marx Brothers ? would assuredly have approved.
While we?re considering the unsuspected side of amateur theatre, friends of Laura Smalley and Richard Ham who turn up to support them in the current Highbury Little Theatre version of A View from the Bridge can hardly help but be aware of the production?s preliminaries.
This is because Richard, who is dark, has been required to go blond, while blonde Laura is temporarily dark.
I haven?t asked whether either of them wanted to make the change or simply succumbed to the persuasive charms of director June Meller. The Sutton Coldfield production runs until Saturday.
Incidentally, Highbury reckons it has unearthed a gem in 17-year-old Philip Cobbold. Philip has written the half-hour farce that forms part of the evening of comedy that the theatre?s newly-formed Punchline Productions will present on Sunday.
The production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which opens at Birmingham?s Crescent Theatre tonight, is the first for a very long time in which the theatre has allowed itself the luxury of understudies.
The thinking is that the lead roles are too big to contemplate sending on someone clutching a script in an emergency. So members of the company have been working out the production?s salvation by taking on the responsibility themselves, in addition to their existing duties.
I have to touch the awestruck forelock ? but having recently seen a company of Crescent players do a brilliant Othello in repertoire with The Winter?s Tale while not giving up the day job, it is becoming ever harder for this highly talented group to surprise me.
As a marketing officer with Huntingdon Hall, Chris Fulcher is involved with publicising the Worcester Festival and productions at the city?s Huntingdon Hall and Swan Theatre.
But when Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society presents HMS Pinafore at the Swan next month, he will take a bow as one of the Boatswain?s mates. He plays the Carpenter, who sings the trio with the Boatswain and Ralph Rackstraw, has a spot of dialogue and gets to blow a whistle a few times.
It is all, he assures me, a delightful change.
Incidentally, this is the Australian version of the show, which dates back to 1994 and is readily distinguishable from the traditional production ? with which WODS made its debut in 1892.
It is one I have yet to see, but I am told that it features a funky female chorus of sisters, cousins and aunts, an energetic singing and dancing chorus of sailors, a funnier script and a modern orchestration for just six instruments. It will be at the Swan Theatre from April 20-30.
The overall winner at Birmingham Festival of Acting and Musical Entertainment (BFAME) was BMOS Musical Productions with West Side Story.
The group also picked up the awards for full-length musical, technical achievement, best musical achievement, best chorus, best direction (Tim Jones) and outstanding achievement.
This last award went to Danni Jayes who played Calamity Jane for BMOS Youtheatre and was in West Side Story as well as understudying one of the leading roles.