...And The Dining Room!
I’ve been involved with the theatre since my freshman year of high school…so 2003…man, I’m getting old.
For most of high school I thought “this is what I want to do”, but I soon realized when I was auditioning for colleges how many others wanted that same dream. So, I found another passion of film and photography. I now keep theatre as a very deep passion of mine, and have been lucky enough to portray some fantastic roles, and have two great venues near me to feed my passion. The Dorset Players are one of the longest running community theatre’s in the country - they are going into their 92nd season this Fall! A new player emerged closer to me in Bennington Community Theatre, and so far we have done two official productions under the umbrella of Oldcastle Theatre Company.
Last December we staged ‘The Curious Savage’ to great success, and this Spring we brought A.R. Gurney’s ‘The Dining Room’ to life with roaring success.
A little backstory about ‘The Dining Room’, this play is originally written for 6 actors to portray over 50 characters, but Christine Decker (our rockstar director!) cast 14 of us to play the 50 characters, and that worked smashingly. All of the scenes revolve around the dining room - naturally - and the vanishing culture of the upper middle class called The Wasps. From the depression era to modern day, there is a long time span of the scenes, but all of the action of the play takes place in a single day. With early morning light to start, and then by the end, it is time for an evening dinner party. It is very clever.
We started rehearsals back in mid-February; with our performances coming up the first weekend of May. With every production the director has a different process with the rehearsal process and bringing the play to life. What I really appreciated was the process Christine brought to ‘The Dining Room’ as well as ‘The Curious Savage’ - instead of one quick night the do a read through and then getting right up and starting blocking, we took some time to be at the table and have multiple table readings. For me, this helped get myself familiar with the lines a bit, before just getting on your feet still not sure what your lines are. It also helped us explore these characters more, figure out more about their stories and connections. These scenes only last 5 to 10 minutes, but there is so much crammed into that time, but also...what has happened to those characters before they graced the stage and what will happen once they leave? Taking the time to do character development takes the level of your production up a notch!
Some rehearsal fun!
The Dining Room // 2019
For 10 weeks we had a blast, putting a lot of work into this play, and I am very sad to see it end. Everyone worked so hard bringing their characters to life, and it was such a pleasure to go to rehearsal every night with this group of fine people.
Once we wrapped the table reads we began running the play, blocking it as we went. Blocking refers to how we actors move about the stage during the scenes. Do we sit? Do we stand? Do we walk around? Do we run? Thankfully we have the script to guide us, providing an outline, and then Christine will tell us what she likes and what she doesn’t like and we adjust accordingly.
I would be remiss if I did not mention everyone behind the scenes bringing it all together. From the set, to costumes, props, lights, sound - all essential in making a successful production. We looked fantastic in our many, many costumes, the set was divine and the lighting was perfect (going from early morning light to evening light throughout the show if you were carefully watching) and helping us along, making our characters and the set more complete was the long, long list of props needed for this show. Without the people helping behind the curtain these shows simply would not be possible.
Through this experience, and spending so much time with this group you become a family of sorts. We care for each other, laugh with each other, and enjoy each other’s company. We’ve spent so much time together, working on our baby (the play!) that when it’s over...it’s as though that baby has now grown up and left the house...leaving us empty nesters, till the next production that is.
This group of people is now part of my life and that makes me very happy. That is one of the most beautiful parts of community theatre, or any theatre in general, is that you work with the group for so long and so often they become part of your life, expanding your community, your friends, and people you know. Now you have more people to hang out with, do things with and you know you have things in common: your love for theatre.
The stage has allowed for incredible things for me, but nothing beats meeting and gaining new friendships - they help us along in this crazy theatrical production called: Life. I thank each and everyone of you for that.