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  • Greg Harper

Appreciating the un-sung heroes

I’m sat here during a so-called technical rehearsal where so far the most technical things going on are a vain attempt to fix the lighting desk, two cast members battling against an electric screwdriver and me using this netbook to type up my random musings.

Next week our society annual pantomime begins and as per usual the community hall in which we perform is an absolute bombsite. Suitcases and carrier bags full of costume, random pieces of timber which haven’t yet been fashioned into props or set, the scaffolding required to both hang and angle the lights, tables, chairs, props, endless empty sandwich wrappers and discarded Diet Coke bottles; it could only be panto.

And in amongst the wreckage and ruin are an army of committed volunteers who are absolutely essential to the final production but will never step foot on the stage. They’re called the production team.

Think about it. Even in the professional theatrical world, when a production comes to its conclusion, the actors all re-appear to take their bows and soak up the applause. In musical productions they will even gesture toward the conductor and orchestra as a way of both showing their own appreciation and deflecting the adulation of the audience toward those responsible for providing the music.

But no-one ever encourages you to applaud the people who designed and built the set, or stitched the costumes, or sourced the props. Their names will appear somewhere in the programme, they may even get a kind mention in the director or producer’s notes. But they will bask in none of the glory of a successful production they helped to create.

It is important to remember that without the production team, the production itself simply would not take place. The fun part of belonging to an amateur dramatics society is turning up for rehearsals and getting to act, sing and dance with like-minded people, with a view to ultimately playing to an audience. The part that no-one wants to do is spend hours of our hard-earned weekends doing all

the gritty jobs like props, costume and set design. Both roles are crucial if a production is to succeed, but one of them is far more alluring and enjoyable than the other.

So if you do happen to pop along to our pantomime next weekend (or any other amateur dramatics production for that matter), spare a thought for those dedicated few who devote hours of their lives to the unglamorous side of things. They are just as important to the show you will watch as those loveys on stage, but if they have done their job properly, you won’t even have given them a thought.

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