Theatre Follies Radio Repertory

My friends and I want to create new theatre based on traditional theatre. How do we do that? Obvious answer is to form a kind of community theatre, maybe find a barn to convert and hold performances there.

No, Mickey and Judy, we don’t want to get into bricks and mortar and all the shenanigans that go with that. We want to concentrate on content and performing. Why not use the latest technology? Supposedly we can all be artists and content providers on the Internet. Why not podcasts?

What kind of theatre?

I especially admire theatre repertory, where an ensemble of performers and performing artists work together to produce a season of work. Back in the day, I worked at Center Stage in Baltimore. They hired actors for the season, not just one play, and granted the so-called stars always had the lead, you could also see them in a supporting role. Everyone learned from each other and the acting was always outstanding.

The SAG awards have a category, not of Best Picture, but Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama/Comedy Series for television and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Some independent movie companies also tend to use the same actors in different movies. Christopher Guest does this and we came to expect to see old favorites in different roles. This is the closest movies get to repertory.

Television is beginning to try on the repertory concept. ABC’s American Crime takes ensemble performance one step closer to repertory. Leading actors in one season become different characters in a new story line in the next season.

Repertory online is what I and my merry band of players admire and aspire to. And so on to Theatre Follies Radio Repertory, a way to produce theatre, oral interpretation of literature, readers theatre, and other theatrical forms in a digital way without having to maintain a building and to be able to play all sorts of parts, some the lead, most not. I call it a podcast, but it is more like radio productions than live interviews and entertainments. We’ve beefed up the whole experience with an accompanying website that gives background about the material we use, why we picked it, and why we think you’d like to hear it.

What’s next?

I see this as just a beginning. The plan is to do something more, better, whatever, with each podcast we do. To get better, more innovative, more relevant. That’s the goal.

For you theatre people, let this be something you and your friends can do. Maybe video is more your speed. Whatever the form, try making your own troupe of performers, you retired people or you high schools or college students. Try it and let us know how your company is progressing.

Here’s the link to Theatre Follies Radio Repertory. Let us know what you think. Use the comments box on this site (here), or on our Facebook page.

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Do you want to put on a play?

I’m toying with the idea of writing a series about how to put on a play when there is no play-producing structure in place. In plain terms, it would be you and your theatre-happy friends and school supporters who want theatre experience but there is no drama department to make that happen, no money allotted for producing a play, no trained person with the title of Director to take the helm, but you want to do it anyway. Maybe you are in a drama club and they are sick and tired of talking about theatre and just want to do it.

So do it, I say, and even as I say just do it, I hear in my head reason after reason tumbling down from on high where those Powerful Beings Who Know Better hurl down their lightning bolts of negativism and that makes me want to write this series even more. And I bet they make you want to do theatre even more.

OK. Firmer, more mature, even wiser heads would say, “Doing a badly directed and acted play is only going to do harm. No one learns anything. The audience will swear they never will go to a play again. And the students learn how to act, direct, stage manage, etc. badly. Just a waste of time, money, resources, and good will for theatre.”

There’s a lot to be said for the Powerful Beings’ viewpoint.

But ‘what if’

  • What if the members of the drama club and the teacher who sponsors it have a bit of experience and lots of desire?
  • What if the people who want to put on a play just have to do it or bust?
  • And what if there was a checklist, a guidebook, a simple handbook to tell you what you need to do, who you should get to do it, and when?

So I asked my friends, some of whom are teachers, what thoughts they had on the subject.

My brother Bob said, “It would seem that you only fail if you DON’T try….little to lose, lots to gain. Coaching from local or regional theatre may be available. Can’t imagine they would not encourage and even lend support.”

My friend Deb, an art teacher, said, “Absolutely!!! Art experiences allow students to express themselves and learning and succeeding in the arts build skills and experiences that cannot be achieved any other way.

“Art teachers (visual, performance, and music) all have been able to create and produce without funding. Granted, it may not be on a large scale, but the kids have to be the focus. Whether it’s recycling materials, getting business to sponsor, getting volunteer students and parents involved, and actually, as Bob says, draw in $$$ and generate interest, they “may” see the value in funding, but the kids see the value in creating. We all know that there will be changes down the road and the cycle will repeat itself. There are so many students, who don’t like to compete in sports, and academically challenged. These students need something to motivate and inspire them.”

I’m convinced and I am ready to go forward. Are you?

I want to discuss what is involved in this and I want to do it over this summer so that by the Fall semester, if a few of you out there want to do a play with a minimum of experience and know-how, you could do it and even provide a satisfying experience for the people putting on the play and the people watching it. It sounds good to me.

Any ideas? Points of view I need to consider? This is your last chance to talk me out of this.

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