Acting in a Thame Players Show
Whether you have never acted before and just fancy having a go, or you are a seasoned amateur actor with many shows under your belt, Thame Players can offer you the opportunity to join in.
Leading roles to non-speaking parts
Over the year, there are many levels of acting ability needed for the plays we put on. Every show has its leading roles which require a vast amount of effort both in learning and performing the parts.
At the other end of the scale, you might wish to consider being the “back end of the cow” in the pantomime.
In between, there are many other opportunities. Sometimes there are non-speaking roles, or perhaps a role with just a few words in act three.
Getting started as an actor
Just come along to an audition and have a go. Our auditions are open to everyone whether you are a member or not. If you are not yet a member, keep an eye on our social media channels for audition announcements.
Directing a Thame Players Show
It all starts with the director
It all starts with the director’s wish to create a show. Each year we ask our members to submit shows that they would like to direct. A play-selection group then reviews all of the these submissions to create a balanced program for the year containing as many diverse genres as possible.
The director leads the show and is responsible for the artistic vision. Early in the process, the director will run auditions for acting parts and through one or more production meetings, will pull together the backstage crew, the technical crew, and any others who need to be involved. Making other preparations for the show, arranging rehearsals, and overseeing set design are also part of the director’s job.
Getting to the point where we have a production suitable to perform in front of a paying audience is a big role, but on the other hand, it is also very rewarding.
Getting started as a director
If you have never directed before but would like to join in and see how it all works, then taking on an assistant director role may well be a first step. We wouldn’t expect someone who has never directed before to jump in at the deep end and take on this key role on their own.
The Backstage Crew in a Thame Players Show
The Stage Manager or SM is responsible for the successful running of live performances once rehearsals are over. The SM will know the show inside out, make sure the cast are on stage at the right time, coordinate scene changes and much more.
This is a big role to take on, but if you are interested to learn how it all works, you can start by joining in with the stage crew, and maybe try your hand at being an Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) until you are happy with what’s needed.
Some of our visiting shows also benefit from having one of our own Stage Managers to support them.
The requirements of a stage crew vary from show to show. On the whole, the stage crew will be there to change the scenery and adjust the set as and when required during the show. Essentially, the stage crew do whatever is necessary to ensure the stage is set correctly throughout the show.
The prompter or continuity person is there for when an actor forgets their next line. The prompter follows the script as the play is running and is ready to cue the actors if they get stuck or lost.
This role involves sourcing all the things that the actors will use on stage during the show. This might be anything at all, from a suitcase or walking stick to a hand bell or ten shilling notes.
The props that you will acquire will always need to be in keeping with the period in which the play is set so some research is likely to be required.
During the show, the props person works as part of the stage crew, ensuring that the actors have the right props to hand for the scene they are going to play next.
Getting involved with the backstage crew
The backstage crew changes with every show so there are five opportunities during the year to join in with the backstage support of a show.
If you want to be involved, come along to one of the auditions or rehearsals and chat to the Director or the Stage Manager.
You would need to attend rehearsals on a Tuesday and Thursday evenings in the three weeks or so before the show and the final rehearsals that would most likely take place on a weekend.
Lighting, Sound, Projection and Streaming
The Technical Crew in a Thame Players Show set up and run the more technical aspects of the production.
The purpose of stage lighting is both to make sure that the actors, props and key parts of the set can be seen on stage, and to set the atmosphere for each scene in the show using lighting effects. At the Players Theatre, we have a modern lighting system comparable to those you would find in a West End theatre so there is virtually no limit to what we can achieve with lighting.
There are several jobs to do when lighting a show, requiring different levels of skill – so there is scope for anyone to join in.
Rigging the lights
Setting up the show
Running the lighting for a show
Background music, sound effects, microphones and announcements all fall to the sound department during a show.
There are three key jobs to do in regard of the sound in a show:
Designing the sound package
During rehearsals, the sound desk is set up to ensure that the levels are OK so that actors and effects can be heard properly.
Running sound during a show
In the Players Theatre we are lucky to have a back projection system. The projector is behind the stage, and the image it projects is shown on a screen at the back of the stage. This means we can use projection to create computer driven backdrops for our shows rather than having someone working for hours with twelve tins of paint and a big brush.
As well as stationary scenes such as a The Baron’s Shop that we might see in a panto, we can also create moving scenes such as passing clouds, a stormy sea, trees waving in the breeze or indeed anything else that can bring the right atmosphere to the show.
As with the other technical aspects of the theatre, the projection job can be split into two parts.
Running projection during the show
We now offer live streaming facilities, which means that some shows can be watched by our audiences from the comfort of their own homes.
Designing and creating the streaming
A thorough knowledge of the show is required, so attendance at later rehearsals is essential.
Appropriate camera selection, camera angles and zooming are all collated and stored into the streaming computer, along with titles, credits and other overlays that might be needed.
Running streaming for a live show
Getting involved with the technical crew in a show
First of all come along to our Social events and Training sessions to get to know the other “Techies” and get an introduction to the various systems we have in the theatre.
The technical team supports all of our visiting shows as well as Thame Players own productions, so there are around 30 shows a year that need a technical crew. If you have never worked on lighting, sound etc and would like to have a try, then it’s most likely you will start by shadowing one of our more experienced operators.
Designing, Building, Painting and Dressing the Set
The variety of shows that Thame Players put on are wide and varied, each making its own demands in regard of the stage and the set. Some shows require a fully built set, such as a courtroom or the inside of a house or flat. Sometimes those shows need the set to change dramatically from one scene to another – something that is particularly challenging for the set designers and builders.
On the other hand, some shows require nothing more than a blank stage with a few moving objects to achieve the desired effect.
Whatever the requirement, the members of Thame Players gather their skills together to turn the director’s vision into reality.
Designing a set might be quite a complex task if the requirements of the play demand something intricate. The set designer would need to work with the show director to determine exactly what is needed on stage and then work out how the set might be constructed given the limitations of the space we have available. Very often, a model is built to illustrate the idea.
The set designer would typically produce a set of drawings to illustrate the requirements for the build.
Three weeks before a show, the theatre “goes dark” to allow the set to be built ready for the show. Often at a weekend, a few members will gather to start work and turn the drawings and models into reality. Depending on the complexity of the build, work might continue over a number of days or weeks. While the set might look perfect for an audience during the show, when it’s painted, dressed and under stage lighting, it’s usually a different matter entirely if you get up close. You certainly don’t have to be a skilled carpenter to help to build one of our sets. It’s amazing what you can do with masking tape and a lick of paint.
Once the structure of the set is built, it needs to be painted. Sometimes it’s just a simple plain colour that is needed, such as for the inside walls of a flat. On other occasions painting needs might be more demanding when for example a wooden floor is needed, or stone and brickwork on a wall. We run training sessions from time to time to show how our special painting effects can be achieved.
The final stage in set preparation is the dressing. This is to hang curtains, blinds, pictures, and other minor fittings. Sourcing and putting in place chairs, tables, sofas, cushions, beds etc is also part of the set dressing process. Items on stage have to be “of the period” of the play, so a flat screen TV wouldn’t really be the right thing to have on a play set in the 1960’s. Set dressing can also involve putting appropriate stage clutter in place, adding items which are not used by the actors but which add atmosphere to the set.
Getting involved with Set Creation
Come along to our social events and get to know who does what. You might also come along to one of our audition sessions and have a chat with the Director who will connect you with the other folks involved with the set creation process.
Wardrobe and Costume
The Wardrobe and Costume team prepare costumes ready for a show and then assist actors with dressing, wigs, hair and makeup during a show.
Preparing Costumes for a Show
Once the show director has outlined the requirements in terms of costume, it’s up to the wardrobe team to source, modify or create the items that are needed. Thame Players have an extensive collection of costume items that can be adjusted to fit, trimmed with glitz, or otherwise altered to suit a production. When necessary, costumes can be hired. There are times as well when a costume item will be made from scratch.
Costume during a show
The wardrobe team will make sure all costume items are ready for the cast to put on, and provide any assistance that actors need to get dressed. Items of costume that are needed for “quick change” during a show are arranged backstage, and the wardrobe team will be on hand to assist with the change – making sure that all is well before an actor goes back on stage.
Another critical job for the costume team during a show is to carry out emergency repairs. With all the excitement and the need for actors to sometimes get changed in a hurry, it is all too easy for costumes to get damaged. In these circumstances, a very quick fix is required to get the actor back on stage. More long lasting repairs might be needed in readiness for the next performance.
Help actors look the part. This might mean recreating a historical look, or even creating a new look for a fairy.
Getting involved with Wardrobe and Costume
Come along to our social events and get to know who are the other members of the wardrobe team. You might also come along to one of our audition sessions and have a chat with the Director who will connect you with the other folks involved with wardrobe and costume.
Front of House (FOH)
What do we mean by Front of House (FOH)
FOH covers our foyer area, bar and auditorium, basically everywhere front of the curtain. It creates the first impression of our theatre. Our FOH Team play a key role in the running of both our own five shows and the thirty or so visiting shows each year. Without a FOH team the show literally cannot go on.
Who are the FOH Team
The FOH Teams are comprised of any full members or Friends of Thame Players who can spare the time to support this aspect of the theatre. We encourage members to support FOH when not involved in a production in other ways, whether backstage or performing. It’s possible to be involved in different areas at different times. Teams are typically made up of five people where programmes are being sold and fewer for visiting shows. With thirty-five plus shows a year to support, FOH is a busy place and needs lots of volunteers!
Within FOH is the Box Office, staffed from the time doors open until the show starts, selling tickets and answering queries. You may choose to volunteer just for box office duties.
What do the FOH Team do
- Prepare FOH area and bar prior to a show
- Welcome audiences
- Sell programmes
- Support audience to locate their seats and ensure they are comfortable and safe throughout the show (including supplying first aid if necessary)
- Run the bar prior to show and during intervals
- Clean and tidy auditorium, foyer and bar areas after the show
For new and old members, FOH is a great way to get to know other members as well as our audiences. If you enjoy the buzz, then FOH is a fantastic way to become involved in our theatre without performing on stage. As part of the FOH Team you can choose which role you would like to undertake, whether it be welcoming and selling programmes or helping to run the bar. We offer full training for each aspect, including FOH Manager duties.
A FOH Manager must be in place for every show and has overall responsibility for everyone and all things that happen within this area. The FOH Manager liaises with the Stage Manager to ensure smooth running of every show.
If you are interested in joining us, please tick FOH on the membership details or email email@example.com and your preferences can be updated for you. You will then receive all information relating to FOH.
If you would like to know more or just have a chat about what’s involved contact Janine Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping the theatre running
Thame Players is one of the few amateur theatre groups in the UK who have their own theatre which is owned and run entirely by the volunteer members of Thame Players. This creates a need for constant effort in the background to ensure that everything that drives the theatre and its operation carries on efficiently in the background. There are many background jobs that need to be done, and our members divide up the workload between them, depending in their skills and availability. If you would like to be involved with the background work of the theatre, then there is likely always something to do. You certainly don’t have to be a theatre buff or an actor to help us keep things running.
Advertising, Publicity and Social Media
There is a constant and ongoing effort to promote our shows and events. We use many forms of advertising including several social media channels, local magazine entries, press releases and open days to name but a few.
If you would like to help us with our promotional activities, then your assistance would be welcome.
There is always something to do to keep up with the maintenance of the building and its facilities. When we have the skills “in-house” we take care of things ourselves. We might replace light bulbs, fix a sticky door, refit a door lock, make minor repairs, etc. etc. If you have reasonable DIY skills or have other “hands on” skills, then you might wish to join in and help us out from time to time.
The theatre is constantly evolving and the committee meet to sign-off projects to improve our facilities. There is an opportunity to get involved in making these projects happen, either co-ordinating them or getting hands-on. It could be anything from DIY, painting, rigging new equipment or working on the design aspects of these projects.
It might not be the most glamourous job in the theatre, but someone has to make sure we don’t run out of toilet rolls. Our housekeeper makes sure that all the essential consumables that we use in the theatre are there when we need them.
The theatre committee makes the decisions that steer the course of the theatre and its business. Typically, they also take on a number of the other jobs that need to be done, such as the Treasurer, Health and Safety, Safeguarding, The committee stands down every year at the AGM and a new committee gets elected. If you have skills that could assist the committee in any way, please contact us or come along to a rehearsal or social and have a chat.