The Play

By | 9 February 1996

Published 9 Feb 1996
Monday: I’m in a panic about The Play. Producing a play to celebrate the school’s 360th birthday is one thing, but the effects of neveragainitis should have lasted for at least another decade. Producing a second play, one year after the first, is like deciding to have another baby a good idea in a rosy glow of euphoria when the first off-spring was behaving beautifully. By the time the next baby/production is on its way, all you can think of is unlearnt lines and dire rehearsals.
At least this time the words are those of Dylan Thomas. On the other hand, I can’t chop his lines as I did my own, especially when we hit memory problems. This time I’ve got to consider copyright holders. And how much it costs Pounds 116 for two performances. I was cheaper and I try not to think that it showed.
Tuesday : I authorise payment for texts another Pounds 104 and wonder if this enterprise is worth it. We don’t want a profit, nor a loss either. Costumes Elizabethan the last time should not be a worry for Under Milk Wood because, as I console the cast, it’s just aprons and pyjamas really. I spend lunchtime rehearsing the drowned sailors “No, not the hornpipe, you are dead, remember?” Mystified glances. After school, the Ogmore-Pritchards “Now, you two are dead, OK?” They mutter in the ranks, and there’s some scepticism about the street cred in playing a corpse.
Wednesday : The set looks suspiciously like a mining village, not a fishing town, but I’m hugely grateful none the less. The first designer I approached returned the text with a cheery, “Actually, I see it as a radio play.” Right now, me too. Even present day costumes for a cast of more than 40 is slightly problematic and I contemplate everyone in black tights and sweaters with token aprons and cloth caps. My first Gossamer Beynon has withdrawn today because the play clashes with the area finals of a geography quiz.
Thursday: My second Gossamer Beynon is not at all happy that Dylan’s text apparently requires her to lie in long grass, drawing rings around her nipples with lipstick. I tell her we’ll work on it. No rehearsal tonight because it’s parents’ evening where some express surprise at my Welsh accent, which is becoming second nature. I am, after all, trying to wean young actresses off their own accents anywhere from India, to Italy, to Ireland. I have forbidden the watching of Coronation Street.
Friday: I feel I could give Branagh lessons. Classes oh yes! one almost forgets them have been on Restoration drama and Julius Caesar. The sixth form are dazzled by the modernity of work dated 1707 while Year 9 are having a whale of a time being a Roman mob, a seductive Cassius or a sneaky devious Antony. I allow myself to feel a teeny bit disaffected with Under Milk Wood. But the prospect of an all female Julius Caesar. . . now there’s a thought.

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