Standstill in the wings…

December 5, 2009

HOWARD HARDACRE, Community Ensemble Participant

There are some really magical moments in this production and the one that I am drawn to night after night is the opening of Act III. At this point ‘the theatre’ is all around me, as the strength of the performance extends into the wings. The complete hubbub of the wings is at a standstill. Only a few people linger here now.

For the past few nights I have watched from stage left, but tonight I witnessed it from stage right. The proximity of the acting of the hospital scene touches the ether around us. I watch the attentive nurses through the golden-lined shadows of an actor and a dancer. Through the jet black flats and banks of silhouetted lighting and against the lights from stage left which are blinding in the distance, I can see the bed and the scene plays out. It’s a sombre moment and filled with reflection and poignancy. The nurses leave the stage and we all stand silently together…It’s a really privileged position.


Spoilt for choice

November 20, 2009

HOWARD HARDACRE, Community Ensemble Participant

The truth is I’m just not sure which level to engage at with this project…..

Apart from my community responsibilities in applying myself to the parts that I have on stage, I can put my music student hat on and sit in the wings and follow the score of this magnificent piece of work and learn more about it’s genius. I can head out into the auditorium and feast on it’s triumphant interpretation. Let me tell you that today I walked away from the rehearsal of the Hallelujah chorus with a tear in my eye it was just so splendid.

But it’s with my business analyst hat on that I am so in awe. The infrastructure behind the production is vast, collaborative and very well delivered. From the audio looping systems for lighting, stage management, sound and dressers to the guys who transport the props and scenery to and fro between their offsite home and the wings. All the stage technicians who turn the stage around from one show to the next in a few hours, the fireman who appears every time a candle is lit and my personal favourites, the creative genius props guys who make the sliders for the benches (nudge nudge) and who, quite magnificently, have the ability to create golden trees.

It’s staggering just how many people are working solidly with one objective in mind. I really enjoy this collaborative transformational management style as everyone enjoys and benefits from the experience in so many ways. It’s a pleasure to be part of it.

It’s a team sport…

November 12, 2009

HOWARD HARDACRE, Community Ensemble Participant

Hats off to all involved in this magnificent team! The creative spirit is well and truly airborne. Today found us being filmed outside, at the back of the shops on West Hampstead High St, to be immortalised in celluloid against a faded skip-like backdrop of discarded summer picnic benches and beer umbrellas! We posed for a camera that’s set up on a scrub bit of parking space to move back and forth, on a very ingenious folding set of rails. We stand still and the camera gently glides past us, capturing an image of our head and shoulders. The footage is going to be projected on stage during the production!

After being filmed, we all had a well-earned break and I think that the sound-proofing must be quite exceptional in the building because we could have outdone any 5th form common room in the land! So much chatter, singing, laughing, heckling….Just general fun really. …..But isn’t that just amazing, how within a couple of short sessions we are a buzzing team. I am totally impressed at how well this has all been implemented within the group and how expertly 42 disparate people have been brought together to form such a cohesive unit.

Back to rehearsals and we’re building on the Act III Amen sequence where we join our chorus buddies for the big finale. The movement throughout the piece is quite remarkable. Here on stage, I’m blown away by the sheer size of the sound all around me and I’m tremendously impressed how some chorus members are completely out on their own, robustly singing their lines, sometimes cut off from any of their similar voices for support, against other equally robust harmonies. That can’t be easy.

Deborah directs us to adopt a sombre and mournful role and suddenly I start to develop the very peculiar feeling of acting! Which was really quite a fantastic experience, knowing that amidst all of the energy that’s going on, on stage, in my own small way, a world apart from reality, I am adding to that mood and impression.