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Suffolk Summer Theatre – 5 weeks in…


Simply exhausted… but loving every minute!

My first play, How The Other Half Loves has spent a week and a half in Southwold and half a week in Aldeburgh with just 7 performances left to go in the latter.  This time next week I will be frantically deletingHTOHL Champagne all my lines from my memory to create space for my final show, September Tide, to go in.  Let’s not forget that a week tomorrow I also open my second play, Out of Order, whilst all that is going on, too!  Let’s deal with them individually, though.

HTOHL has been a wonderful experience.  It’s one of my favourite Alan Ayckbourn plays and it’s produced huge challenges for the cast (see my previous blog about who’s involved by clicking here).  As lovely as the two theatres are that we are playing neither of them are renowned for their large stages.  In fact, we usually refer to them as acting on a postage stamp!  Nevertheless we’ve been able to make the show work and our feedback from the audiences has been nothing but complimentary.  We even had a 4 star review in The Stage (have a look here if you want) which we were all tickled pink by!  Southwold Theatre was a joy to play but the move to Jubilee Hall in Aldeburgh was a bit of a shock.  Originally designed for concerts and where Benjamin Britten premièred a number of his works in the mid 1900’s it takes a different technique from actors to make sure we’re heard correctly.  Imagine the echoey sound in a church, that’s the kind of atmosphere it has.  It’s not a question of us belting out our lines at a greater volume, it’s more of a case of over enunciating them.  Not a problem in the main but suddenly we’re performing a play that is very settled in a slightly different manner to how we’ve been accustomed.  Again, though, audience feedback has all been fab and it’s a great space to play.

We’ve been rehearsing my second play, OOO, for 2 weeks now and we’ve got one more week to go.  We rehearse from 10 until 5 everyday before heading off to perform HTOHL in the evening.  My character is worlds aparFirst swimt from the one I’m already playing so there has been no confusion of lines… so far!  OOO is a farce and therefore in many ways it’s one big dance routine; people hiding in cupboards, climbing through windows, rushing in and out of doors, there’s underwear, wheelchairs, physical comedy and sleeping pills a plenty.  The only downside for us is that due to the rehearsal schedule we’re using we don’t actually get to run the show until next Thursday – 2 rehearsal days before we open!  Learning a show in a literal manner that relies so heavily on the physical aspects of performance is flippin’ hard!  Nevertheless, that’s what we’re doing and I have full confidence in the ability of the 9 strong cast plus our technical team to get the show ready in time.  The cast is the same as HTOHL plus Christopher Elderwood, Harry Emerson and Jim Morley.  We have a new ASM, too, called Becca.  The 4 of them have all had their evenings off as the rest of us have had to do HTOHL each night – not jealous at all!

And as for September Tide?  Well, I’m still learning OOO at the moment so it’ll have to wait – even if we do start rehearsals for it in 9 days time!

Socially it’s been a great couple of weeks.  We’ve had mini rounders tournaments the last two Sundays (it’s too wet today), had a big Chinese Takeaway night, been swimming as a group in the sea at 8am and been out for lovely bike rides to country pubs.  I know I keep referring to ‘my’ plays but that’s because there is another cRounders #2ompany here, too.  They opened Anybody For Murder on Monday and we all got VIP tickets to their big night.  It was great!  It’s a comedy thriller which has a rather ridiculous plot (don’t they all?!?) but which was played and directed with such finesse and clarity that you didn’t care a bit.  It rocketed through without taking it’s foot off the pedal and made for a very exciting night at the theatre.  I won’t lie, I did have a pang of jealousy that I wasn’t in it myself…!  Their cast of Rikki Lawton, Pamela Banks, Amy Christina Murray, Clive Flint, Harry Gostelow and Sarah Ogley all shone and fully deserve all the plaudits they get! In true rep style they are now rehearsing The Titfield Thunderbolt in the daytimes.  Honestly, it’s non stop here, y’know!!

This afternoon I made a visit to the annual FESPA Theatre Summer Fete on Raffle!Southwold Common.  Despite the torrential rain and howling winds it was great fun.  I managed to win on the raffle (both water AND wine!), I guessed the correct name of the scarecrow, I played bowling, had a go on the coconut shy (I swear the bloomin’ thing was rigged…!), made use of my refillable coffee cup and had a dance to the live jazz band.  All the proceeds go back into the theatre via FESPA (Friends of East Suffolk Performing Arts) so hopefully they’ve raised quite a bit.  I know my wallet was quite a bit lighter by the end of it all!

So that’s it really.  Plenty of other stuff happens here but I either can’t tell you about it (what goes on tour stays on tour etc!) or wouldn’t want to bore you.  I’ll write another blog when I get the chance and let you know how everything is going.  It’s not all glitz and glamour in the showbiz world when you’re working 14 hour days, you know!HTOHL Slide

P.S.  We had 2 company birthdays this week so many happy returns to Christopher and Amy!  x

Production photos by James Laws

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