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Woodhouse Players
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 M E M B E R S  >  D E C I D I N G   W H A T  T O   D O

Every so often we get together to read through plays and decide what we want to produce in the next few months. Here's some questions and answers about how these occasions work...

What happens at the play reading?

We have a list of plays to go through, suggested by members. We will read extracts from them and use the reading to decide what we want to programme in the available slots (or sometimes outside them).

Plays or projects we look at often have an "advocate". An advocate is someone in particular who is prepared to make a case for the play, and has already devoted some thought to how it could be put on and why the group should do it. They are also willing to make a commitment to be involved on the production side (as director, co-director, producer or another key role).

The advantage of this is that it enables us to know more about what we are deciding on at the reading, and we can also see which plays have passionate, committed people behind them and which ones people are less committed to.

We have also recently started the slush pile for when we don't have many suggestions.

How do we decide on a play to do?

We usually try to reach a firm decision at the reading (ideally by consensus, but if necessary by a vote). If this doesn't produce a clear result, or the ideas need more consideration/ersearch, then it can go to the committee.

I have a suggestion for a play we should do. What do I do about it?

First, decide whether you would like to be an advocate for the play (see below) or just suggest it. If you just want to suggest it, please let a member of the committee know the title and author of the play you're suggesting, and, if you know this, where to get copies. The sooner you do this, the better, so we can make copies to read from.

I want to advocate a play. How do I do it?

You will need to first let the committee know what play you want to advocate. If you think you'd like to direct a play, but aren't sure what play to choose, then first look at the slush pile. When you've chosen, at the reading you should spend a short while telling us...

  • How the play would be done and why
    - e.g. you might have an idea for a production of Six Characters in Search of an Author using a black box set with all the flats turned away from the audience, or The Tempest in a Victorian setting, to make a point about colonialism. Basically, some details about how the show would be staged.
  • Why the play would be a good choice for the group.
    - e.g. "it has a good sized cast and a good balance of male/female", "It is very relevant to the local community", "It would give us a chance to try a type of theatre we haven't done before and extend our skills" etc.
  • What it might cost (very roughly) and what sort of audience it would bring in
    - e.g. "Shakespeare can be done very cheaply, because there is no licence to pay, and we could make more on the tickets if we marketed it to school groups and did it in term time", "We can re-use set elements from a previous production and wouldn't need to hire in equipment", "The author is a 'name' that the public will recognise" etc.
  • What task you see yourself performing in the production
    - you might imagine yourself directing, co-directing, producing or acting, or you might have a special skill that would be central to the production, like costuming, voice work, mime teaching, music etc. This doesn't have to be set in stone, but it's good if we can see that there is someone there committed to making it happen.

That sounds really difficult.

It's much easier than you think! If you think you'd like to advocate a play, but you would like a bit of advice about how to make a case or just need a sounding board then contact a member of the committee or ask a member who's done it before.

I want to advocate a play as a special project (e.g. external venue show, rehearsed reading, community partnership etc. etc. ), but not in one of the regular slots. How do I do this?

If you have an idea for a one-off project, there are some extra things to think about and tell us...

  • Whether the project would pay for itself, or where the money would come from to pay for it.
  • Why it is the sort of activity Woodhouse should be doing
  • If there are people capable of making it happen
  • What impact it would have, if any, on the regular programme of shows (the smaller the better, usually)

If your idea is a big project, and requires a lot of discussion or thinking about, we might organise a special separate meeting to talk about it.

I can't make it to the reading. Can I still be involved in the decision?

Not easily, but we try to send out an email a day or two before the reading, listing the suggestions. You could then send in your comments in advance by email, so that they are read out at the reading. If there's a vote, though, you won't be able to participate.

Got more questions? Contact the committee


 T H E   W O O D H O U S E   Y E A R

We have access to two rehearsal spaces within the Welsh Church Hall, so at any one time there will generally be two productions in rehearsal. To avoid overload on our resources we aim to alternate large- and small-scale productions. The loose guide below describes the current shape of the Woodhouse year. This is far from set in stone, but provides us with a basic framework. Members are free to suggest additional activities or variations at any time.

March - Double Bill

Two one-act plays. Has often been used as a showcase for new writing by group members. Auditions and are usually held in December and rehearsals start in January; the run at the Welsh Church Hall is usually followed by performances at the Waltham Forest Festival of Theatre (part of the All England Theatre Festival).

Early Summer Production

Usually a small-to-medium scale full-length play - recent examples are Round and Round the Garden and Stags and Hens. Auditions are held in February/March and rehearsals start immediately after the Double Bill; performances are in late May/early June.

Late Summer Production

This slot coincides with, and forms part of, the Leytonstone festival and is therefore a major showcase for the group's work. Usually a medium-to-large scale full-length play, should aim to be an intelligent crowd-pleaser. Most recent plays in this slot have been Daisy Pulls It Off, The Diary of Anne Frank, and An Ideal Husband. Auditions are in March/April and rehearsals start in April/May; performances are in late July.

Early Autumn Studio Production

Usually a small-scale, full-length play (large cast plays are not recommended for this slot because the rehearsal period spans the main holiday season, which usually affects people's availability). Could be the slot to try something a little more "edgy" or unusual. Recent plays in this slot have been The Cemetery Club, Dinner and Kindertransport. Auditions and rehearsals start in June/July; performances are usually in late September/early October.

Late Autumn Production

Usually a large-scale full-length play, often a "classic". Recent productions in this slot have been Twelfth Night, Hobson's Choice, The Lark and Our Country's Good. Auditions and rehearsals start in July/August; performances are usually in late October/early November.

Pantomime/Christmas Show

Usually a home-written Panto with popular songs - but could be an off-the-shelf Panto, or other Christmas show, such as A Christmas Carol. Auditions are in September/October and rehearsals start in October. Performances are usually in the two weeks after Christmas in December/January.

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