Fringe Benefits – The Show Went On…

So after all the angst and some hard work from many people, we finally staged Fringe Benefits… pretty successfully too. A record number of tickets were sold and Friday and Saturday in particular packed them in.

I would personally like to say thanks to the cast for all the time put in to polish the performance during the last two weeks. The script was deceptively difficult and the blocking was typically complicated (it was a farce after all!). So well done to you all.

I must say that I found this production was very hard work, especially because we had to resolve the problem of how to stage a performance given the restrictions and lack of infrastructure in the new hall.

My most heartfelt thanks to the backstage helpers who did an enormous amount of work – you’re all heroes!

Thoughts..  (my personal opinion from a Director’s perspective)…

  • The promotional efforts put in early and followed through consistently gave us a great audience.  a lot of work but a noticeable result, with many new people in the audience;
  • The overall show preparation and rehearsal period was too short, putting rather too much pressure on everyone and cutting down on the fun aspect.  We could only start rehearsals proper once we were allowed back into the hall – mid February;
  • The champagne draw was a big success and has now given us a mailing list which should give a great basis for promoting future productions.  I am really pleased with the idea and it was very relevant to the show.  Also it tied in perfectly with Mothers day which fell on the same weekend as the performances, so I made presentation boxes with a champagne flute filled with chocolate eggs and lots of ribbons etc.

Finally I should just add that I think everyone who put in so much effort added to the success of the performances – you should all be very proud of yourselves!

At times the production aspects felt like hell and I certainly said never again more times than I would like to remember!  Thanks to the few (you know who you are), who helped to keep me sane (well, as sane as I ever am).

Producing and directing (especially when there are major technical issues to resolve), really don’t work as a single responsibility – far too much work is involved, and I for one won’t be taking on both simultaneously again.  How lucky I am to have a supportive and technically minded Ken to help in so many ways…

Having said that, I think it needed a big push to get us going again as a group and with this production I have done my best to work with others to achieve that.  So over to someone else… yippeeee!!

We’ve Been Framed!

Following our move back into Berrow Village Hall in February and the commitment to stage ‘Fringe benefits’ as our next production, we have had to overcome some significant problems.

For one, the village hall now has a suspended ceiling, which means our previously used lighting bars have been removed and cannot be put back.

stage 2 drama
The successful result of the trial assembly of our new frame

After weeks of research and more weeks of feverish calculation to decide what we could fit in and how the components could be fitted together, stored safely and fitted round our modular stage, we ordered a huge aluminium frame made by global truss.  This had to be shipped from Germany, so it was quite important to get the order exactly right!

We anxiously endured the weeks of waiting for the last few items to come into stock, and finally the frame was on its way to us…

A week later there was the lorry outside our door. In accordance with the instructions from the Supplier, we took the driver hostage while we checked off all the bits and pieces present and correct before finally allowing him to leave.

The next bit of fun was how to get the boxes (some of which were over 3 metres long) into the car and down to the hall.  This was easilly solved by opening the back window on the CRV and sticking the excess length out through it.

Next was the big trial assembly.  Ken and I had meticulously worked out that it could be safely assembled and would just clear the roof ties in the hall and amazingly, it did!

We needed 6 people in total. Four to help with the assembly and lifting into position of the legs, and the others to connect the two halves.  It looks great and is really strong.  We are now very much poorer (the thing cost £1700), but hopefully we are a step closer to being able to stage our first production in the new hall.

I decided to call the frame ‘Helga’ as she came from Germany, (actually she came from Taiwan via Germany but I don’t know any Taiwanese names and anyway I think Helga suits her).

stage 2 drama
stage 2 stalwarts who turned up to help assemble "Helga"

From left to right: Ken, Dennis, Owen, Mike, Doreen, Serena, Greg

Berrow Village Hall Official Opening

Well we attended the official opening ceremony at 11 am on 5th March.  There was a colourful dragon dance which apparently is for good luck and prosperity (something which the BCA trustees might be glad of).  Jenny Bentley, the Berrow Parish Council Chair did the honours with a yellow ribbon and we all piled in for tea and biccies.

Reportedly, the local vicar Sally was asked to bless the place but refused as the last time she did it the building burnt down! (wonder if that was the football pavillion…?).

In the evening there was a celebratory do in the hall with dinner, bar and live band.  A good time was had by all who attended, with much dancing, drinking, frivolity and a few cracking headaches in the morning…

stage 2 hits the credit cards HARD!

Following the move into refurbished hall, we are left with a blank canvas…  On the plus side there is the bigger performing space / auditorium.  On the minus side there is a suspended ceiling to which we can no longer attach lighting bars, a lower ceiling which limits our lighting options, no wiring for lights or sound, no dedicated power supply, a hall management committee who are terrified to let us touch any structure or surface lest it be irrevocably scarred, and a show to put on in a few weeks time.  No pressure then!

under pressure
Now we really need to sell some flippin'tickets!

German engineering partly to the rescue; we have ordered a large aluminium box frame to go over the stage to which we can attach lighting and drapery.  Great! (but a mountain of cash).  We have also marshalled our local electrician for power supply fitting, purchased the requisite miles of cables / festoons of dmx thingies, other goobledegook wossits, extra tripods and hired led lights so as not to set the actors heads on fire… Credit card stretched beyond limits… “she canna take it cap’n   aaaaarrrrrg! [KABOOM!!!]  Not to worry then.

Now we REALLY need to sell some flippin tickets!!!

Fringe Benefits Rehearsals

Here are a few images of the ‘Fringe Benefits’ rehearsals.  Rehearsals are in Berrow Village Hall on Fridays and Sunday evenings.  Gold medal to Lynne for catching bus from and to Weston on rainy night…  Shows great dedication I think.  Also a medal to Grahame for being almost word perfect / books down in Act 2.  In fact a big thank you to everyone for giving up the time to get to rehearsals and learn lines.  I know you are all extremely busy.  It will be worth it when you hear the no doubt thunderous applause on March 31st / April 1st & 2nd

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