Production

A production is not just about "treading the boards"; putting on a play needs a wide variety of skills and usually more backstage and front of house staff than there are cast on stage!

The normal course of a production is:

  • Regular rehearsals in the Ritchie Hall on Tuesdays starting at 7.30pm.

  • Usually a second rehearsal in a cast member's home on Thursdays, concentrating on the script.

  • Planning commences for the NEXT production, including a read through of the chosen play, perhaps at an evening party, followed by auditions, usually before the set building weekends.

  • Two weekends before the run devoted to set building at the Ritchie Hall, with a technical and first dress rehearsal on second of the two Sundays

  • The week of the production; dress rehearsal on Tuesday, invited audience of senior citizens on Wednesday, and three nights for the members of the public. Pantomime has a longer performance run

  • After production party at the Ritchie Hall immediately following the last night.

  • Strike the set and clear up the Ritchie Hall on the Sunday morning.

There are three key activities that are required for a successful performance:


Directing

Recently we held a workshop for potential directors, at which several of our more experienced directors talked about their directing style, how they chose plays, went about the difficult task of auditioning and the 101 decisions associated with putting a play on the stage. Marianne, director of Ritual for Dolls and Aladdin, amongst others, produced a useful check list of the logistics required for putting on a play on the Ritchie Hall stage.

Putting on a play

  1. Choose a play
  2. Arrange for a read through (at Ritchie Hall or someone's house) 
    • Director will be very familiar with the play by this time having read it through several times (possibly) - Directors could find the directing of a play quite time consuming and depending on the length of play (one act or full length) not only rehearsal time but in between - reading the play - plotting and thinking out difficult moves etc - could occupy part of your day most days. 
  3. Auditions 
    • Hall to be hired 
    • Prepare audition slips (useful to save missing anyone) 
  4. Cast play + nominate backstage (Job descriptions for these are in our membership pack) 
    • Stage Manager 
    • Assistant Stage Manager 
    • Sound 
    • Lighting 
    • Props 
    • Production assistant 
  5. Nominate Front of House Manager (who will organise his team) 
  6. Order Scripts (See Treasurer) 
    • Company will pay for backstage scripts - cast will buy their own 
  7. Treasurer will apply for Licence/Royalties 
  8. Rehearsals 
    • Book extra rehearsals (Tuesday in the hall which is already booked) if needed closer to production
      [check with Committee (extra nights can be expensive) so ensure full cast available to make full use of this] 
    • Thursday night word rehearsals normally in someone's house 
  9. Keep Committee informed of progress plus any problems. 
  10. Current Director is asked to attend a Committee meeting prior to a production to inform Committee of progress and discuss any potential problems 
    • Discuss with back stage crew the design of the set 
  11. Special effects that may need the hire of specialist equipment 
  12. Call back stage meeting (back stage, front of house, etc) approximately 3 to 4 weeks prior to the production 
  13. Liaise with sound man as to your opening music plus any other musical affects door bells, clock chimes etc 
  14. Most members have photographs taken for cast board but check to ensure no one is forgotten 
  15. Director to give Business Manager a cast, back stage and front of house list so that tickets can be printed and is responsible for proof reading ticket prior to them going to printers to ensure complete accuracy 
  16. Director to give Business Manager a resume of the play for inserting on the back of the tickets 
  17. Check with cast as to costumes etc 
  18. Set Build (hall already booked) two weekends (Sat/Sun) prior to production week 
  19. Last Sunday before production used for Technical Rehearsal to run through: 
    • Music/special affects etc plus any difficult bits! 
    • Technical Rehearsal can be used for a full run through if needed 
  20. Dress Rehearsal on Tuesday before opening night on the Wednesday Thursday, Friday and Saturday night production 
  21. End of play party on Saturday night 
    • It has been a tradition in the past for Directors to buy a small present by way of a thank you for the back stage and front of house crew all of which are given out during the end of play party. 
  22. SET STRIKE ON SUNDAY MORNING

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Behind the scenes

Putting on a production involves a lot of people and a great attention to detail. 

No play could go on stage without backstage: here is a description of the major roles in the backstage crew.

Stage Manager

The Stage Manager is responsible for everything that happens backstage during the run. He / she is also consulted during rehearsals to ensure that the backstage sets can be constructed and that scene changes are achievable. The Stage Manager oversees the Set Building weekends where he / she converts the set designs provided by the director into workable sets. As well as building the main sets usually rooms with doors and windows, this can involve building objects as diverse as Crypts, Revolving Doors, Jails and Court Room Benches. The other key activity during the Set Building weekends is painting the backcloths, this involves a designated artist selected from the Company to convert the designs provided by the director to scenery backdrops required for the performances.

Lighting

The Lighting Director plots the lights with the director to achieve required atmosphere and operates lights during the run. The Lighting Director has a computerised lighting system that can operate up to 24 analogue lamps, infinate DMX lamps with 5 full colour controllers, 8 minispots and up to 8 on stage specials (e.g mirror ball, table lamps). He / she can be called upon to develop special lighting effects. He also has access to a projector that can project moving and still images onto a screen or the tabs.

Sound

The Sound Director provides sound effects and music. This is a particularly busy role during the Pantomime when numerous backing tracks and sound effects are required. The Sound Director has a main amplifier, and a laptop loaded with 'Sound Cue System (SCS)'.

Props

Props (Property Manager) works during the rehearsal period to source items and set dressing, and is backstage during run to move and supply props during course of the play. This is a particularly busy role during the Pantomime when a substantial number of humorous objects and peculiar set dressing are required.

Production assistant

The Production Assistant is the director's "right hand person". The Production Assistant is with the director at all rehearsals, making notes of moves, changes to script and tasks to be completed. He / she prompts the cast as they learn their lines and runs the Prompt Corner during the performances. 

Wardrobe

As we've been putting on plays for 30 years, we've accumulated quite a lot of costumes! Our Wardrobe Mistress constantly amazes us by taking an unpromising piece of material and producing an absolutely hideous garment for the Dame or a beautiful ball gown for the Princess.

She is expert at recycling too, and last year's Elizabethan style can turn to Fairy Tale to Medieval to Carolinian in what seems like the drop of a hat. Of course, it's not really that easy, and takes a lot of time to dress a large cast.

Recently, we've done quite a few plays which have required costume too, several of which have required uniforms.

We do hire our costumes from time to time, so please contact us

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Front of house

This is a vital function of theatre - there's no point in putting on a production if you have no one to look after the audience! We like to have three or four people on the rota each night of a production: selling raffle tickets and programmes, showing people to their seats, taking orders for interval refreshments, as well as someone at the door to sell tickets.

Our pantomimes are enlivened by chorus members in costume (and character) selling raffle tickets, with full houses every night more staff are required.

It's hard work, especially for pantomime, and you can be on the go all evening, sorting out the raffle tickets, laying out and making the refreshments, and answering 101 questions from the audience.

We appoint a FOH manager for each production, who then organises the rota for the others, and works with the Treasurer and the Business Manager to make sure things run smoothly.

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Last saved: February, 2016