It's nearly 18 months since I directed a show at the local am-dram group. Back in May 2006 we staged the musical Sweet Charity, following four months of acting, singing and dancing rehearsals. After that I took myself off the directing rotation, to allow more time for my many writing endeavours. I acted a supporting role in the autumn production of Major Barbara, but restricted myself to stage managing the pantomime and stayed right out of this year's spring show, The Rivals. For the last two months I've been involved with a production of Jake's Women by Neil Simon, but only as an actor.
Having finished my MA course, I've got a little more room in my head for pursuing extra-curricular activities. So I'm directing the pantomime again this autumn, my fourth time at the helm in six years. Pantomimes are a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. They're put together in record time, with usually only six or seven weeks for rehearsals before hitting the stage for five consecutive nights of performances. There's singing, dancing and plenty of slapstick.
Happily, the occasional rough corners only add to the charm of the show. If something goes wrong in a dramatic play or a musical, it can derail the whole production. If something goes awry in a pantomime, it often makes the show funnier. Wigs that fly off, prop sausages that prove all but inedible, characters corpsing - it's all part of the frivolity. So long as everyone keeps going and there's enough people on stage who know what they're doing, the show carries on.
After so long away from directing, I'm looking forward to taking charge again. My natural tendency is to lead from the front, and I've never been backwards in coming forwards. The joys of being a screaming extrovert, I suppose. Tonight's our first rehearsal, but then we take a two week break while the Biggar Little Festival occupies the town. Something like a hundred events in nine days, not bad for a town of 2000 people. Once that's over, it'll be November and panto rehearsals can begin in earnest. It'll be a helter skelter rush, but we'll get it done. Somehow!