We have a small intimate theatre with seating for about fifty-five people where the local amateur dramatic group out on productions. They can be really good. The regional theatre company do a rolling programme around the small communities, of which there are very many, and we get to see their work at this theatre too.
Using mostly, local people, a local published play- write gave a one act, two-hander play he had lying in his cupboard, an airing recently. The in-training, theatrical director ( another local person), selected his two cast members and in the space of six weeks, the production went live. The writing was clever, it was humorous, it had pathos, it was not just about communication, but communicating on multiple levels.
It was a wartime story of a girl in the countryside meeting with an American airman. Once they have learned to understand one another, they form a relationship, they, never knowing if either one can ever fulfil the promise of it.
Both actors worked with their scripts. Occasionally, ‘Ellie’ discreetly prompted herself from it. She had a brogue to hold in her large role, which was laced occasionally with a little mimicry of American speech, I got so frustrated at one stage with ‘John’ stumbling through his character, though doing it, while holding his American accent, I grant you, I shut my eyes rather than watch him. It was then I realised, with a little adaptation, this play could work really well as a radio play.
The female lead who gave a sparkling and powerful performance, was totally untrained. Her acting was so good she carried the performance. The male who had received two years formal drama training, looked the part and at various moments, demonstrated that he might, with more development, become an interesting actor.
Why would this play need need a bit of tweaking to be heard elsewhere? That’s the catch. The female lead was written in a local dialect and if you did not have any real knowledge of it, the interplay and the repartee would have gone over your head. There were people in the audience who were long time residents though not born here, who did not follow all of it. There were foreign visitors who, even with a little bit of English, would have been utterly lost. This is where another, unplanned level of communication was important, and that was body language.