The play's the thing

PUBLISHED: 10:53 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:49 11 May 2010

IT S that time of year for the traditional end-of-term school play. Parents sit packed in the school hall living in hope - and, it has to be admitted, a touch of trepidation - over whether the one embarrassing moment of the production will not be delivere

IT'S that time of year for the traditional end-of-term school play.

Parents sit packed in the school hall living in hope - and, it has to be admitted, a touch of trepidation - over whether the one embarrassing moment of the production will not be delivered by their child.

We've all been there.

And I would imagine that at one time or another we have played a role in our school play. Perhaps not the leading role, but one where we are seen making the right gestures from the back of the stage.

Every pupil is an actor, and the teacher-turned-director always believes the right and proper way of producing a school play is not about the entertainment value, but about having as many children on the stage as possible at any time.

The idea, I believe, is to ensure that there is a reasonably sized audience of parents.

Well, it doesn't quite happen that way. I remember the school production when we set up an independent acting company and decided that tights and the lines of Shakespeare were not for us.

We were going to produce a swashbuckling adventure for an audience that could still recall Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks as classic heroes of the Hollywood screen.

Our production was action rather than words.

There would be sweeping gestures and duels at dawn, and choreographed sword play. In a moment we could turn from pirates on the high seas to outlaws in Sherwood, to knights of the Round Table.

It was all there. And we rehearsed all our energetic stage movements, and the way to die on stage in glory as the hero of the hour.

But then when one of those know-all teachers took a look at the production, he raised a point that was probably important. We didn't actually have a script.

Yes, we said, but it's an adventure. But then we had to admit that even Flynn and Fairbanks spoke words on the screen.

So our acting careers came to an abrupt end, and we put in a chorus to recite some medieval poem at which point there was a line about it being evening time at seven and the men were praying to heaven.

That was it - a one-line piece of stage glory, and I still don't know what it was all about.

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