Bronte – after the event

Well I suspect I might blow my own trumpet a bit here, as I think I got this production right, and it was a rather special event. And it was an event, even if it was not well supported – that’s not a reflection on the spectacular cast nor production team.
The first thing about reading the play was how complex it was and how many different locations were required – a more literal director and designer than me would have made The Parsonage and elsewhere and the production would have been several hours longer. but I knew this production could not be literal, and had to have pace and drama. I needed a space that was both claustrophobic, but could also suggest the wide open moors, and also the world of the books. Finding that, and I will post photos in due course, was the first step, then I made a decision not to have any furniture otherwise it would be in danger of turning into a busy day at Pickfords. No furniture led me to concentrate every prop every action around the books and the papers, and that became the theme. after the tsunami of paper falling at the start, the cast were free to grab any paper to hand and have it become what we wanted – and gosh the cast ran with that. Books were kicked, eaten, torn, caressed, and more besides – anything to help express their thought process. we were lucky to have a new projector, and with some epic stills of clouds from Peter, my brother in law, we went from dark candlelit parsonage to the open moors instantly. I can’t abide laborious scene changes – I loved transformations, but they need to be seamless and choreographed. A simple illusion of Emily’s second book being burnt caused gasps every night – I guess the audience did not expect the paper to soar upwards, thanks to a couple of hidden wind machines. I think too we got the passion right about this, and managed to balance some joyous moments with deep, deep tragedy. The lighting was gorgeous and yes we had Nero the hawk, circling the auditorium. we just needed a bigger audience. All of us has reason to be very proud of this professional, theatrical and heartbreaking performance. Comments saying this was the best production at this theatre or better than anything at the exchange are lovely, but I wish they would give me, or all of us, some brownie points, and some credibility. They did help me in my application for assistant director at the storyhouse in chester on a production of Little Shop of Horrors. hang on – a local director who can cope with both puppets and actors. Well not even an interview, which is a bit tough. But we are still smiling after Bronte, and best of all, not the five star reviews, but more that we all loved learning about the family and all are so enriched after this experience.

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