Well, “Our Town” has been performed and what an enjoyable experience it was. There’s nothing like a play production to bring out the best in team working. Everyone wants it to be a success so everyone is looking out for each other. Directing a theatre piece could be a module on any business management course. It involves so many skills. There’s of course the obvious ones like know the text really well and visualising how it will look and hearing how it will sound and of course directing the actors, but there’s also the people skills needed to nurture creativity, manage egos and nerves and make sure people feel valued. Then there’s the producing side of it- managing the budget, getting the finances in place, the contracts and working out the risks.
Lots of people ask what is the difference between and director and a producer? I always say the director is in charge of the artistic vision and then producer is in charge of the money. Doing both jobs is tough. The producer is there to keep the director in check, to make sure the director doesn’t go over budget. There sometimes has to be tough decisions, so doing both I have to say to myself, well you might want to spend, spend, spend and make sure you have the best for the production and to maintain the high production values, but you will have to compromise on this. Sometimes though keeping it in check financially means we have to be all the more imaginative about how to achieve something and that can lead to some great decisions!
“Our Town” was praised for its simplicity. White ladders and chairs and tables created the world. Not realistic, but theatrical and with the lighting and sound audiences were transported to another place. In an earlier blog I talked about music. Below is an email I received from an audience member today. It made my day. It just goes to show that attention to detail pays off. The music chosen was just right and someone took the trouble to write about it. It clearly added to their enjoyment of the play. Very special.
Dear Ms Hill (Rosemary),
My wife and I were fortunate to attend the production of 'Our Town' at The Stantonbury Theatre, Milton Keynes, on Saturday afternoon. Rarely have we been so moved by a theatre production.
The entire company was just wonderful and, of course, Thornton Wilder's marvellous and so very poignant play was central to the players bringing so much humanity to their performances.
I have known of the play since I was a teenager (now alas in my 70th year) but I got to know the play indirectly through the excellent music that Aaron Copland wrote for the film of the play released in 1940. I was especially moved to enter the Stantonbury Theatre on Saturday with the music of Copland played before, during and at the close of the performance. I am very fortunate to have met Copland twice and have treasured autographed scores of his ballets, 'Appalachian Spring' and 'Rodeo'.
Thank you so much for producing and directing Thornton Wilder's heart-warming tribute to family and humanity in such a moving way. And such a lovely tribute to our marvellous city of Milton Keynes in its 50th year!
With sincere thanks from my wife and myself to you, to the designers and to the entire cast for leaving us with such a very special memory.