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!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

LITTLE THING, BIG THING - Setting the Stage, PART I: Looking across the "pond"

Now blogging: Sharon Bajer, Director of Little Thing, Big Thing

As I write this, Little Thing Big Thing has opened and is enjoying a great run with good reviews and word of mouth. I now can breathe a sigh of relief. A little backstory here: when I first read the play I was hooked by the story but I really had to study the play in order to visualize how it could be staged. Not only do two actors have to play multiple roles, but they speak their inner thoughts, jump from location to location and interact with people and objects that aren’t physically there. It’s funny, dark, unpredictable, part thriller, part mystery and part love story with a political edge. And if all of that weren’t enough, it takes place in Ireland with dialects from all over the country, Irish slang and many references to specific places in Dublin and across the Irish countryside. A challenge for any director, but this was my PTE Main Stage directorial debut. I didn’t want to screw it up!

Donal O'Kelly, playwright
I did some research into past productions of Little Thing, Big Thing and I discovered that the only other production of the play was the original from Fishamble Theatre that was about to make their Dublin premiere. More back story: in Ireland they follow a more European model of presenting. Rather than many different companies producing their own versions of plays, rehearsing for 3 weeks and presenting a 3-week run for a subscription audience, they keep their plays touring, sometimes for years. As a result many of these plays have small casts and very little in the way of set or fancy production elements. The plays tour all over, can be set up in any space and are relatively inexpensive to move around.

So I looked at the tour schedule for Little Thing Big Thing and I realized that I could see it when it played in Dublin. I immediately contacted the playwright Donal O’Kelly and he put aside a ticket for me! I was very excited to go and meet him and see his show, but I needed a way to get there! Thanks to support from The Manitoba Arts Council and The Winnipeg Arts Council, I was able to travel to Dublin and spend 10 days researching contemporary Irish theatre, meet with Donal and the creative team of Fishamble’s production and go to all of the places that he references in the play.  

Next: Part II: The Irish Experience

Donal O'Kelly & Sorcha Fox in the Fishamble production of Little Thing, Big Thing.

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