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!

Friday, October 23, 2015

LITTLE THING, BIG THING - Setting the Stage, Part III: Bringing it to life, PTE-style

Now Blogging: Sharon Bajer, director of Little Thing, Big Thing

One of the discoveries we made in the first week of rehearsal was that we couldn’t speak as quickly as the Irish actors because of the dialect, and we were using real props and had to move over a larger stage with much physical business. As a result, our version was going to be longer. I decided to put an intermission in the play, where none was written to give both the audience and the actors a breather. I had also decided that we would make everything out of oil barrels, including all of the scenes that take place in a CAR! I knew there would be an element of exploration and we played around in rehearsal with the movement of the barrels for all of the car scenes. One great discovery was that we could turn the barrels from side to side, creating the illusion of driving down those narrow, twisty roads in Ireland. Not only did this look adorable, but it opened up the action in the car to both sides of the theatre. One of my favorite bits is when they drive the barrel around the roundabouts, so common in Ireland.

Now that we’re on the other end of rehearsals, I am very pleased with how the added production elements supported the play. Chris Coyne’s sound and video work is not too much and it just enhances the play without drawing too much attention to itself. The 100 oil barrels that set designer Jamie Plummer and the PTE dream team constructed the set out of work a treat.  I wanted all of the props to be able to appear and disappear within them, which has been delightful to watch. Larry Isacoff’s beautiful lighting was the biggest surprise to me. He was able to create the different worlds of the play and maintain the fabulous look of our imposing wall of oil barrels throughout, highlighting the subtle mood changes and inner thoughts of the characters. And of course our actors Gord Gammie and Jennifer Lyon are excellent (as I knew they would be!) Having Donal at our opening was a treat for me – to show him his play done in our Canadian way. Directing this play has been one of the highlights of my career so far – a great challenge and so incredibly rewarding. PTE has been so supportive to me and I can’t thank them enough for trusting me with this show.

Gordon Gammie (Larry), Sharon Bajer (Director), Donal O'Kelly (Playwright),
Jennifer Lyon (Sister Martha)

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