Thursday, 5 April 2018
That's a wrap! With one incredible day of rehearsals, teching and performances, our amazing Three Musketeers project comes to a close. It has been a strange term in that we were wracked by snow and illness and about a thousand and one things to do in just eight weeks, so it seemed a bit surreal to wake up and find that the day had finally come. Before that though there is some catching up to do, as with the end of term things got incredibly busy and so the past few blog posts were amiss (well, they never happened). So before we go into the final day; the Chameleons had their work cut out for them in week seven; which as always is dubbed the 'Dress Rehearsal' on our planning sheets.
Now the dress rehearsal is always a wonderful week. It's everyone's chance to see what the show looks like once everyone is in costume and all the of the props have been assembled. As it was a shorter term, this was the Chameleons' first chance to see the show from start to finish. We took them all through some handy warm ups to get everyone focused and ready for the rehearsal ahead and then jumped straight in.
While myself and Ben had worked together to direct the show, time constraints meant that we had often split the group to work separately and use the time available more effectively. As such there were some sections of the play that we hadn't had a chance to actually sit back and enjoy. Similarly, this applied to the group as well, who were finally able to see all of the separate pieces that they had rehearsed come together. We were amazed as always with how well everyone remembered not only the order of events, but their lines as well. The script was long and difficult this term (on purpose of course, we wanted to challenge the group) but everyone rose to the challenge and did a spectacular job!
Above all else, the one thing that we agreed blew us away was how well the group had adapted to the format of traverse staging. We have run the Chameleon group for over two years now and had a number of people with us during that time; but never had we set them the challenge of performing to a split stage audience, where there are spectators on both sides. The concept caused a lot of shock when we first explained the layout (some very amusing comments were made), but the dress rehearsal saw everyone performing to both sides as if it were second nature. The group had adapted to meet our demands once again and it looked fantastic. We were very proud.
The dress rehearsal went off without a hitch. We were a very impressed team of facilitators that day. This group never stop amazing us. With that hurdle overcome, however, it was time to move onto the big day.
The analogy 'big day' here isn't used lightly. It was a busy day. In addition to their show, the Chameleons joined up with our Anthos Young Company cast. It was a lovely start, since as everyone arrived they were able to catch the end of the older group's technical rehearsal. We were looking forward to getting the groups together this term, as it is always nice for both to see and support each other's work. For the Chameleons, they are also able to see what it's like to create a production for a more mature audience and what the difference in expectations are. Usually this is a massive positive, as the Chameleons get excited at the potential of future shows they could do. What was nice also was that Miles and Gaia, who were part of the AYC Sherlock Holmes cast (as Holmes and Watson respectively), had been helping us run the Chameleon group this term. Everyone enjoyed getting the chance to see the 'teachers' in action on stage.
From then on the day was spent carrying out the Chameleons' technical rehearsal. During these the cast have to perform the play; with the technical operator plotting and planning the different lighting and technical cues which make up the show. It is usually quite fun as all of the elements for the piece finally come together and the Chameleons get to practice with it before the audience arrive. The cast did a wonderful job and were very patient with us as we planned everything out.
There was time for a quick break and snack and then, to everyone's surprise, the audience began to arrive. Whilst there were plenty of nerves backstage the group were excited to get out on the stage and show everyone all of the hard work that they had put into the production. It was a great turnout; the show had sold out and the studio was full. The Chameleons did a tremendous job- putting nerves aside to deliver a truly entertaining performance!
It was amazing watching the group on the stage. Eight weeks prior we had a group of people who largely had never even done drama before-let alone perform in front of an audience of over fifty people. One of the most incredible things this term has been watching these guys grow in confidence and create some fantastic pieces of work! The audience themselves were also incredibly supportive and the performances were both a great deal of fun and a pleasure to watch.
And so that's all folks! With a thunderous applause another wonderful term with the Chameleon group comes to an end. We had such an incredible time this term working with each and every member of the group and are immensely proud of all the work they created with us. This term marks one of the biggest groups we have had in years, with the most newcomers we have ever had at one time. Everyone, new and old, brought something spectacular to the cast and it goes without saying that the show would have been very different without their brilliant imaginations, enthusiasm and commitment.
At the risk of rambling on; another project finished! As always we would like to thank everyone who supported us throughout the term and who came to attend the final showcase. As Exeter's only non-profit theatre group it means the world to us to have so many fantastic people supporting our work and helping us bring the arts to more and more young people. A large part of our mission is to give everyone access to the arts and a supportive space for young people to nurture and develop their own talents and, above all, have heaps of fun! It has been a magical ride and this term we truly feel like we are achieving our goals. Still, onward we go- there is no rest for the wicked (pun intended). We are busy plotting and scheming for our next production- 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!' which kicks off in May. Again, thanks to everyone for an outstanding term. I'll finish now with a mixed batch of photos from the dress rehearsal and final performance. Until next time!
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