I believe our presentation was the first time a British cast has been flown out to the states in order to perform to an audience of investors.
Having spent three days working on the script at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley, we then flew to New York. A group of overexcited actors on an Atlantic crossing is going to be very loud and perhaps upsetting for the other passengers, but no they seem to be amused by us. We arrived at JFK at night and our yellow cabs deposited us at our hotel on Times Square which had so much artificial light produced from huge screens on every available building, it seemed to be daytime. Our British producer has booked suites for us on the twenty fifth floor where the view of the city is stunning. The next day we walked to Broadway where we found the Snapple Theatre, a complex of small stages that are perfect for drama, leaving the bigger stages in New York to the musicals. We then set about building our multi purpose set that is going to be a therapist consulting room; a clinic for depression; a park in London; plus a court room. After one rehearsal on that set, we are ready to perform. The investors are made up of high flyers in show business plus outsiders who want to be part of our business. After the show they tell us they are shocked and excited.
Now I have an evening to see and listen to New York, Two cops talking about an arrest they had made, a girl in tears sitting in the back of a coffee shop on her cell phone to what is her ex boy friend; plus all the sales patter from the many traders selling direct to you from the pavement. It is a crazy city and being there with product was a buzz
Next day another group of investors this time they are more important and our second performance is even better, again there is excitement. Well known names and events are played out through the well researched material, about events known to the Americans but being heard for the first time with facts that are new and shocking . Again we attend a drinks reception where a great deal of interest is being expressed. Should this play be produced in New York, it will almost certainly have English actors who are now resident in the USA. Should it be produced here in England then the producers will re cast with UK Equity members. Getting a play on the stage is a long slow process. It was exciting to be part of that process and as the Manager of the Snapple Theatre said to us , “ Congratulations, you should all love each other and now let’s all hug” which we did. We the actors had done our job.
AN ACTOR AND HIS AUDIENCE.
This year 2013/14 I shall be directing Beauty and the Beast at the Pomegranate Theatre Chesterfield from 6 December to the 5th January. But let me take you back to 2012/13 in order to share a moment I shared with a member of the audience
2012/13 Bridlington Spar theatre
I have directed ‘Beauty and the beast’ in a beautiful Victorian theatre which is part of a twenty million pound refurbishment at the Spar in Bridlington. I also played Beauty’s Father a professor and inventor of children’s toys. Half through the first act it is suggested by Gaston a suitor to Beauty that I visit Paris in order to sell my invention ‘a Super scooter water soaker’ which is of course a scooter and a water pistol in one, to a shop in Paris, this is a ploy to get me out of the way in order that Gaston may woe Beauty.
Off I set to Paris only to find the establishment closed, so I have to spend the night in Paris, which means I’m late getting back to Beauty my daughter who is now worried about me. I then get lost in the haunted forest in which live evil spirits and Gremlins, I find myself at the gates of the derelict castle which once was the home of the Count De Flambore, at this point a huge Beast finds me picking a rose I had promised to take beck to Beauty, he threatens to kill me, I tell him I have a daughter called Beauty who is waiting for me in our cottage. The Beast then tells me he will let me go on the promise that I will send back to him the first one who greets me on my return home. I believe this will be my dog, who I can send back in the hope that the Beast will be frightened by the appearance of a large dog..however on my return, it is not the dog but my daughter who greets me, I scream at her to get out of my sight, I don’t want to see her, Beauty now needs to know why her father is so upset, I explain that on my way back from Paris there was a rose bush and I was just picking a rose for her when a great Beast jumped out and threatened to take me back to his a castle as his prisoner, but says Beauty “he let you go”, yes ”on one condition that I sent back to him the first one who I saw on my return”......
By this time I have travelled around the back of the audience and found myself in the front row in a follow spot, sitting just behind me is a northern women of a certain age and weight, as I turn in my light towards the audience to cry in deep despair “What have I done – What have I done” this Northern lady leans in to the light of the follow spot, takes me by the hands and says “ It’s not been your day has it love”.. This kind of audience participation keeps a director/actor’s feet firmly on the ground and reminds you of the importance of the audience’s involvement in the story.
So back to this year ...In Chesterfield I have had a new thought for the professor’s toy invention. In this production he will have a ‘powerful peculating bubble provider’ and when I share the toy with the children I will fill the auditorium with bubbles. My producers have provided me with a new set and a wonderful crazy car on which I make my first entrance. I have no doubt there will be a moment when a member of the audience will provide me with another story