There is something magical about sitting in an audience as the house lights dim.

The buzz in the room settles into quiet anticipation as we wait to be transported into someone else's world, someone else's story. But what we see on the stage is just the culmination of weeks, sometimes months of work behind the scenes by artists of all description: actors, directors, designers, wardrobe people, carpenters, painters, sound and light experts and others.

This blog will give you a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into that unknown world, following the rehearsal process.
This will be your guide to the hard work, fun and weirdness of putting together a play
for a professional theatre company.

You'll never watch a play in the same way again!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES - Blog #1: Picking the Play

Now blogging: Ann Hodges, Director and PTE Artistic Associate

Welcome to my first blog entry!  Through this blog, I’m hoping to let you take a peek into the process of how a play goes from selection to full production at Prairie Theatre Exchange.

This season, I received a grant from the Canada Council to be in residence at Prairie Theatre Exchange (shout out to the Canada Council!). The residency is primarily to learn about some of the elements of creating theatre that I don’t often come in contact with as a freelance director. So that means that, between my regular freelance gigs this season, I’ve been spending a lot of time at PTE working with Bob and the rest of the staff. 

A big part of my residency so far has been spent reading plays for Bob to help him choose next season. It’s kind of like planning a dinner - what dishes will go together to create a varied and satisfying meal? It’s been a fascinating process - both to get to know the many plays and writers out there, and also to witness the heartbreaking reasons why some very good plays get bumped off the list -- just like with menu-planning, we can’t have too much of this or too much of that, and we also have to work within a budget, of course. But, ultimately, the aim is to provide a fabulous and varied theatre meal for PTE audiences over the course of a season.

At PTE from April 9 - 26, 2015
The production I’m directing at the end of this season at PTE satisfies the “make ‘em laugh” part of the menu. The Hound of the Baskervilles, based on the suspenseful (and truly scary) Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is a hilarious enactment of that story, created by a British company called Peepolykus. (Say it aloud. And by the way, the ‘lyk’ part rhymes with bike....) Peepolykus produced this theatrical version of the Holmes story, written by Steven Canny and John Nicolson, finessed and honed it, and performed it all over England -- including a successful run in the West End. It’s a lightning-fast, extremely funny and also incredibly accurate re-telling of the original story, performed by only three actors. The original British creators have now released it to other companies, and it’s receiving new productions all over the world. It’s a play that requires super-skilled comic performers -- which leads to the next step in bringing a show to the stage....

Next blog:  Dying is easy, comedy is hard:  Casting the show

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