Directors. At one time the Players were graced with a good number of ‘resident’ directors and occasional guest directors, but, with the passage of time, the number of resident directors has diminished and the remaining ones have to work even harder. These days, the increased administrative burden of directing, with risk assessments, fewer actors and back-stage crews with experience, tighter budgeting, perhaps child protection and so on, has meant that a director may appoint an assistant to help carry that burden so that he or she can concentrate more on the artistic aspects of the production.
About half-way through each year, the directors decide among themselves who will take each ‘slot’ in the following year, subject, of course, to committee approval. At one time, new directors were required to demonstrate their abilities with a ‘probationary’ one-act play, but that rule no longer applies. If you would like to direct a play and have experience or feel that you have what it takes, contact the Players’ Secretary. Castings traditionally take place as soon as possible after the preceding production, but over-lapping of productions is not uncommon. Casting meetings are arranged by the play’s Director and are usually informal group readings. The Director may decide that more than one meeting is needed to arrive at the most appropriate cast for his or her production. Please don’t be disheartened if you don’t land the part or, perhaps, any part at all! There are many other jobs that are just as essential if you really do want to be involved. Remember, if you accept a part or any other job, the rest of the ‘team’ will be depending on you to do it. Help is always at hand if the going gets hard. Do ask – we are quite a friendly bunch!
Rehearsals are arranged by the play’s director. The rehearsal period is usually from 8 to 10 weeks long with two or three rehearsals a week (or possibly more, depending on the degree of panic as the performance dates loom closer). The evenings chosen will be at the mutual convenience of director and cast and according to the availability of space (negotiated with the Centre booking Secretary). Rehearsals generally start at 7:30 and finish around 10:00.
Cast and crew are generally expected to help with the get-out on the Sunday morning after the last performance.
Finances. The Players are self-supporting and rely entirely on box office takings to keep going. Thanks to the maintenance of good standards (we would like to think!), prudent choices of plays and the facilities at the Centre, the Players have managed to stay in the black, although this is becoming increasingly difficult as costs continue to rocket. Audience loyalty is critical, so we do our best to maintain as high a standard as we possibly can in the hope of earning and keeping the loyalty of our supporters.
A four-day production currently costs £2,500 to £3,000 to mount – perhaps more if it is, for example, a period piece with lots of hired costumes. One of the director’s first tasks in starting a production is to agree a budget with the Players’ Treasurer. Some budget items, such as royalties, theatre hire, publicity, are not difficult to cost. Others, perhaps special scenery or costumes, are necessarily estimates. The budget ultimately reduces to the number of tickets that needs to be sold to cover the sum of all the costs. If that is judged to be achievable, then the budget is usually approved in committee. However, estimating the size of audiences is notoriously difficult and the Treasurer and Committee try to instil a sense of caution without cramping a director’s style.
The Players are a member group of the Cornwall Drama Association (C.D.A.) that, as its name implies, is a county-wide organization of amateur drama groups. In recent years, Players’ productions have usually been entered in the C.D.A.’s annual Full-length Play Festival. Plays are constructively criticized by experienced adjudicators and judged against other productions across the county in that year. Whilst the idea of competitive drama is anathema to some members, the criticisms are generally helpful and the occasional winning of an award is most pleasing. Awards are presented at the C.D.A. Theatre Day, held in November, at Newquay. The day is packed with events and entertainment and highly recommended by those who attend every year.
How to join in: contact the Players’ Membership Secretary or other member of the Committee (names are on the notice boards at the Centre outside the theatre bar and in the house porch), or, if you know someone who is already a Players’ member, get him or her to take you to the next event.
Other than plays, the Players have occasional just-for-fun play-readings, quiz evenings and other social events. Every now and then, there are week-end workshops that may be of general interest but are sometimes arranged in the hope of learning some special skill for a forthcoming production. The events are on an irregular basis, so keep an eye on Players’ Newsletters, the Diary of Events page here on the Players’ web site or on the Players’ notice boards at the Centre for information.