Updated: Oct 23, 2021
Not quite the catchy title I'd hope for my first blog post, but I guess it fulfils it's purpose well enough. So please read on, now I have your attention...
Knowing where to begin has always been a problem for me. I'm not sure how many years have passed in the planning stage of this blog. I seem much more suited to making lists and coming up with potential ideas than actually executing. A nice mix of faltering courage and resolve, paired with my frustrating tendency to procrastinate, has been the perfect excuse not to publish a finished article. And even though I've now got 15+ years of amateur theatre "experience", I still feel like a slight imposter. However, the time has come for me to actually put pen to paper or fingers to keys and attempt to present some of the stuff in my head.
For the longest time, I've tried to analyse my creative endeavours, picking apart my process in an attempt to spot weaknesses and rectify them. I've read, watched and listened to everything I can on how to shape a show and learnt so much from those around me. But, I've always felt the lack of a solid foundation in my process. There were so many little things I wasn't sure I was doing correctly but didn't know where to look to find a remedy. From the most simple ideas to more complex theoretical concepts like; how do you go about picking your next play? How do you audition people, cast, approach the rehearsal process and prepare for the shows themselves? How do you market an amateur show? Where do you get a stage? How do you find a team to help you out? Who do you actually need on that team? What does an amateur producer do? How should an amateur director talk to their actors? And conversely, how should you, as an amateur actor, interact with your director? The list seemed endless and I just couldn't find a resource focused on the very specific nature and process of creating an amateur show.
So it is this that leads me to be sitting here at my laptop, tentatively beginning the journey to coalesce some of my own thoughts and, much more interestingly, attempting to gather together some of the immense, untapped knowledge that you all hold.
The next big hurdle has been how to present it. How best to make it a resource accessible to as many people as possible. This blog seemed like a sensible place to start. A way to unload all manner of randomness that resides in my mind or interesting things that I've stumbled across on my journeys. I’m sure it’ll begin to take a more coherent shape as time passes, but for now, it’ll mostly be my ramblings on how I move through the creative process. Alongside that, I’ve also begun creating a series of podcasts (the first of which you can listen to here). Each one is an interview with someone from the amateur theatre world who I believe has an interesting story to tell. The podcast, although with much the same rambling nature, I hope will act as a more lucid presentation of ideas, not least because I’ve found that getting smarter people than myself to sit down and talk about their experiences has been an informative, motivating, and inspirational activity.
As the weeks roll on, hopefully, I'll have created a semi-interesting portfolio of blogs and podcasts that will act as a starting point for how you might deal with various aspects of creating a show. Sometimes we’ll no doubt dive deeper than you’d like, and other times we'll consciously stick to the shallows. If you're new to theatre, the more you read and listen the more you’ll see how little I really know, even with all my experience, so we can treat this as a joint learning opportunity. And if you’re a veteran, you’ll hopefully just be able to nod along in quiet appreciation of the stories that you hear. Either way, you’re welcome to jump about as you please and take as little or as much from the experience. I want this to truly be a space for people of all levels and experience and a resource that will provide as little or as much help as you need going forward.
After that, who knows where things will head? Hopefully, the community that springs up around the ideas we present here will direct the focus of future ideas (it might just be my mum and a few pitying souls, but fingers crossed, we’ll pick up some additional stragglers along the way). It would be lovely to shape content around what people want and need, and finally create a foundational resource for the amateur theatre world (ambitious maybe, but we can but try).
So, whether you’re at school, part of a local amateur group or maybe you’re on your way to becoming a professional, I would love to be a part of your journey.