Time has really flown by this fall. Can you believe that in 2 weeks we will be in tech? We’ve accomplished so much, but we still have so much left to do.
All the musical numbers have been learned, the first act has been blocked, and many dances have been taught. We still have much of the second act to block, a few dances to learn, and a lot of layers to add. It can seem overwhelming, but I know that our kids are up for the challenge!
There are a lot of other things going on at NDW, aside from what the actors are doing. Pam has been busy, with the help of her parent volunteers, getting costumes done. Whether that means fitting items to actors, buying new pieces, altering what we have, or some good old-fashioned sewing, they have been working hard to get our actors looking the part. We also have parents who have been working in the back on props (like our Narrators’ books) and set pieces. Whether building, painting, sawing, or other construction like things, they are busy making sure Wychwood-Under-Ooze looks just right. (Don’t know what Wychwood-Under-Ooze is yet? Just another reason to see our show!)
In order to put on a successful production, all of these things need to come together. Usually, the director has a vision and works with designers in the set, costume, and lighting departments. After they create their designs and have approval from the director a whole bunch of people come together to bring these things to life. And while the designers are busy overseeing the director’s vision, the director is free to work with actors and bring the author’s words to life with their performances.
There are some productions in which the actors don’t have sets or costumes or even props. Sometimes it is a budgetary or time issue, but sometimes that is the director’s vision. For example, sometimes Shakespeare is done on a 3-sided set with all white walls where all the actors wear black. Now – even in this instance set and costume design are required, but on a much smaller scale. The director might choose to go this route to help highlight the actors’ performances and the author’s words without other things getting in the way.
I myself was in a play in which I played a chair, a bed, and a table with a bowl (my hands were the bowl). This was in 8th grade when NDW did The Trial of Goldilocks. I had other things to do, but during the reenactments of what happened according to, first Goldilocks, and then the Bears, instead of having set changes, the director decided to use actors. It was a choice. I’m not sure it worked, but these are all things that can work to benefit a performance within the director’s vision.
At NDW today we are all very lucky to have the wonderful crew that we do. Everyone works with Cindy to come up with something that matches her vision, and we allow for some creative license as these things are happening. We owe so much to what our parent volunteers do, but we, the staff, and the actors don’t always get to see these things until tech week. There was a time when I would have a chance to go down back or hang out in the costume room, but that hasn’t happened for a while. I’m sure I’ll get there soon.
I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve forgotten all the other things that go on behind the scenes, like fundraising, but I wanted to talk specifically about the production process that goes behind what will be seen during performances. These are the same things that the actors will combine to create their world: direction, costumes, sets, and props.
In my life I have been lucky enough to act, direct, build and paint sets and props, and help with costumes (my least favorite – I usually get stuck ironing). My favorite thing is directing, with acting not far behind – in case you were wondering. Due to my experiences I understand how things work backstage, but I know a lot of people have no idea what goes into these things. Hopefully you’ll all have a better understanding now.