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LEST IS BEST – OR IS IT? – BUT THEN AGAIN!

May 9, 2014

Agony wYOU can climb the heights of public accolade and then swiftly drop to depths of despair.
How? Become a director in amateur dramatics.
This came from an interesting little conversation recently posing the question of local amateur theatre: ‘Are there too many shows for too few actors and dwindling audiences?’
It sounds ridiculous, after all, it is a perishing hobby staffed by volunteers.
The problem is it also entails the promise, however unreal, of bright lights, thunderous applause and some would say, a launch pad for egos on Facebook.
This question arose in my patch of Essex where there are a growing number of groups, each putting on a number of productions and now, struggling to find actors, encourage audiences, and make a few bob to pay for essentials.
Those that have survived appear to adopt the ‘Ring Fence’ method, but the general problem is there are only so many players available for this growing list of productions and only a few with the divine ability of being in two places at once.
It is becoming an interest where supply is beginning to outpace a limited demand.
Unfortunately this not a case for Darwinism either, which is why pink flying elephants are constrained to the Vodka bottle.
A prime example is one of Havering’s oldest societies that specialises in annual Shakespearean comedies in a beautiful park.
The queue of hopefuls at the audition this year dwindled to that of a line for a frontal lobotomy with a pruning fork, and with characters not filled, it came close to cancelling.
Were it not for the Bulldog enthused director, it may have done, but he is not one to lose a fight anywhere, and he only goes paddling on the beaches.
However this is one aspect of the introduction to this article.
The frustration and dismay becomes apparent when the dreams and ambitions are spread on the floor like a burst bag of Cat Litter.
Amateur Dramatics is a thoroughly enjoyable pastime, but the signs of overkill are beginning to show.
I witnessed a similar ticking time bomb in another interest some years ago. An explosion of groups wanting to go it alone in a limited interest market. They quickly out grew the equally limited supply of available support.
There is no immediate answer, but I do think there’s no harm in people getting together to talk it through.
It would be a great shame to lose the quality that abounds within our groups, but do we need the quantity of productions each year or the increasing number of egg cup drama festivals?
It may be called amateur, but it is theatre that entertains, and gives the same buzz that comes from an appreciative packed house.
Lest is Best is a theatrical saying that carries a lot of truth, but in this case I wonder if egos will tie the legs together before it becomes a contender.

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