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WORKINGTON PLAYGOERS

Protocol for Selecting and Directing Plays for the Playgoers

The proposed season of plays should be presented to the Council by the Production Director (PD) in the June of the previous year.

The first stage in that year should be to ask the membership for suggestions for which plays to choose, and also if they wish to act or direct in the next season.  Members can propose plays written by themselves (these must be available electronically).

The Production Committee (PC) will then consider the suggestions, plus any of their own, and select a ‘short list’ to be researched further.  This can be done through readings, or circulating the scripts, but also through YouTube, reviews, etc.  The PC will need to take into consideration that the season should have a variety of genre e.g. comedies, whodunnits, period pieces, classics, modern cutting-edge.  At this stage the availability of licences will be checked.

The PC members will then each present a selection of plays according to the number in the season, currently five, and the most popular will be chosen as the season and presented to the Council, with prospective dates.  In addition there will be a production by the Theatre Royal Shakespeare Group of a Shakespeare or other Elizabethan/Jacobean play chosen by the members[1] of the group.

Once the programme has been agreed, the PC will choose directors for all plays, except for the Shakespeare, where the choice rests with the members [2].  Those who have expressed a desire to direct should be considered first.  The PC members should bear in mind the need to introduce new directors whilst maintaining our high standards.  No director will direct more than one play in a year, except if there is no alternative.  If the chosen play has been proposed by a member, that does not guarantee that they will be chosen to direct, though that will be a factor to be taken into consideration.  Joint directors can be chosen, especially if inexperienced.

In addition to the season, rehearsed readings can be proposed.  These could if successful become part of a future season.

Once the PD has got acceptance from all directors, there will be a Directors’ Meeting (DM) including the PD, the Playgoers chair and all the directors to decide on casting.  Before this meeting, a read-through of each play should take place, and all members circulated and invited to take part.  This is an aid to casting, not an audition, and parts are not to be allocated at this point, though actors’ preferences and availability can be ascertained.  The director should obtain contact details from those attending to ease casting later.  The directors should come to the DM with a prospective cast in mind.

Casting should take into consideration what was learnt at the read-through, and should be decided on the principle that no-one is overloaded with major parts, and everyone who has asked to act gets a part if at all possible, whilst maintaining standards.  It is likely that some actors will have more than one part in a season, especially in large-cast plays, and if the parts are small.  The directors will then and only then offer parts to their cast.  If the director needs contact details for the prospective cast, the PD or the Membership Secretary should be contacted.

As soon as is possible, the Director should have a Production Meeting with representatives of Set Building, Tech, Wardrobe, Props and Publicity, not necessarily all at once.  They should also present a budget to the Treasurer.  The Secretary is responsible for the obtaining of licences.  The director is responsible for finding a prompt and obtaining scripts. If the play cast contains children or vulnerable adults then the Safeguarding Committee must be consulted.  All productions are guaranteed three weeks on stage before opening night.

If those asked to take a part decline, or later drop out, the director has a free hand to fill the part, including if necessary from outside the Playgoers (but the chosen actor must then join).

 

A J Parker, Production Director 18/5/2021

 

[1] Those who have acted with the Shakespeare group and are Playgoer members

[2] As with 1.

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