How to Join the Amateur Dramatic Society (A First Step Into Acting)
How to Join a Theatre Group Near You
- First, go online or search your local newspaper for theatre groups. If you can't find it in the groups section, take a look at What's On? There you are bound to find a ttage production that's going to be shown soon in your town.
- Check out who and what it is, then find their site on Google.
- There is bound to be an email or telephone number. Ask if you can pop along and see if you want to join. I am sure they will be happy to see you.
- Each theatre group will be different, but many will ask you to work behind the scenes before allowing you to join in the acting. Trust me, this is great for learning your way. By the time you get to your first performance, you will have learned the ropes by watching and listening.
- What I have learned is that by sitting in at the rehearsals, you get to watch firsthand how it's done. You may even be lucky enough to 'read' a few of the characters if someone is away.
- In my local amateur dramatics group, I have a few funds that need paying, but not a great deal. First of all, we pay 20 pounds (approximately 35 dollars) yearly for various functions and bits and pieces. We also pay for the script, which is a few pounds/dollars. But nothing we can't afford. And don't be afraid to say, 'Sorry I can't afford that so I will have to pass'. There is always next time.
- The most important thing is to join a group that you feel comfortable with. I recently joined—you can read my story below—and trust me, they are great! But if you feel any pressure or just don't like how it's done, then leave and try another group. Never give up your dream just because you didn't fit in, okay?
- Why not read my story below and see what you think?
Amateur Dramatics, Here I Come! My Experience With the Marlow Players
Joining the local Amateur Dramatic Society was always on my list of things to do. I had been thinking about doing it for a while but kept putting it off, but then....
Sometimes its great to get out of the ordinary and do something extraordinary. Lets face it, most of us do the same old humdrum things. Going to work, being stuck in the same old routine.
We all need a hobby. But when we want to do something different its pretty difficult to find someone else to come along with you, so you just give up.
That's what happened to me. But I took the bull by the horns and went and joined my local Am - Dram society. In plain English, the local Amateur Dramatic society . The Marlow Players.
But was it the right decision?
Well for starters its a lot of fun. The group are lovely and friendly. And they are all different ages. So I didn't feel out of place.
Some work full time, a few are retired, and others have been acting for so long they can't remember a time when they haven't 'Trod the boards' so to speak.
The first time I got in contact with them was through email. I knew the name of the local group, purely because they were well known around my town. I remember a relative many years ago saying she had joined them. That made me think. How long had they been performing?
I recently bought a DVD which showed my town celebrating a number of different festivals and Royal engagements.
And the Players were on there right from the beginning, around 1940! So they have been around forever or so it seems!
'Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made!'— George Burns
“All the world's a stage.” - Shakespeare
Sending out that first email I was struck by nerves. I mean, what the heck did I know about acting? Okay, I did belong to an acting/dancing school when I was young, but come on, I was around twelve years old when I left!
The funny thing is, I kept dreaming I had joined this local group. So I thought, 'Why the hell not?' In for a penny.....!
So after sending the email, I arranged to go down to the local studio for my first sojourn into acting!
The first night I ventured into acting land, I was terrified! But everybody was so nice. And I had joined early on in the season, so the guys were only just getting into their roles.
The new play that they were rehearsing was only on the second week. So I joined them on the couch and just listened in.
Of course there was no role for me as I had just joined, and all the roles had been taken.
I now realise that this was good. As its given me a long time to learn what its all about. And how everything works.
So far so good!
What I didn't realize is just how much life teaches you in the first place. Back in the 90's I attended a writing class for a few months, and when it finished, a few of us decided to carry on writing and reading at various homes so that we could critic each others work.
On top of that I used to dance on stage years ago. So putting it together everything felt pretty relaxed and familiar. Which was a great bonus.
The first thing I noticed was how easy it all was. I have read about amateur dramatics and acting and drama before and was always afraid that everybody would be very 'Darling' if you get my point. But no, in fact everyone there is so laid back and have a great sense of humour.
Making a fool of yourself is part of the fun!
So, what goes on and what did I find to do?
Well this is the great part. Did you ever watch that film, Karate Kid? You know the part Wax on and Wax off?
It was a bit like that. I didn't know I was learning till, well, I had learned! A lot!
For example. Many times over the last few weeks I have had to 'Stand in' for someone who was ill or just away.
I may not have got up and strutted my stuff all over the studio, but boy did I make a big deal out of getting the voices right!
I sat on that couch reading out parts in my best Cornish accent, That was the cleaner, my best deep slow drawl of the Butler, and the sweet little voice of the ingenue!
Which was great when there were gaps between the part. But if I had to read three peoples part one after the other, it ended up a very comic scene with me trying to change voices!
But to their credit the actors were great and they didn't laugh at me! Just carried on in their perfect acting way.
I just hope I will be as professional if I get a part next time!
Script, act, mess up, then voila!
There are various stages to putting together the latest Play. The first few weeks tend to be just sitting around and reading their lines. And then after learning their parts with vigour the Director suddenly decides to cut lines, change names and so on.
Then it all starts again. This is typical of the first few read through's. They have to try to cut the script down so that it fits into the time frame. The scripts end up looking like a book full of half scrawled out writing leaving only the actors lines in the middle.
Next comes Blocking. This is when the Director tells the actors where they should stand, move too and get the best lighting on the stage. Each read through the actors will be told 'No, too far away' or 'Come closer to the front of the Stage' and so on.
This is the fun part. Well, it is when you are sitting watching it! And of course there is a lot of fun and laughter involved when the actors mess up. For example, getting in each others way or bumping into each other while rehearsing.
'Would you please...'
After the stage direction, comes the costumes and stage accessories. Chairs, tables, maybe a typewriter or two. Telephones and all the things you need to make it look like an office, home or anywhere the action is going to take place.
There is always a bustle about trying to find suitable clothing. Especially if the Stage Play is set in a different era. The play that's being rehearsed now is actually set in the fifties. So, no modern speak! So to speak....!
The next step is letting in a few of the other members or guests to take a look at the rehearsal, see how its going and whether its funny or not. I think this went well as one of the actors laughed so much she nearly choked!
I think one of the funniest scenes has to be when the 'Murderer' of the Play has to act out the scene where he is tackling someone for the gun. Hysterical laughter filled the room, as one of the actors who had done more Plays than little me could mention tried to get her voice higher and higher, finally screaming out,
' WOULD YOU PLEASE LET ME READ MY LINE, I AM NOT GOING TO LOSE THIS LINE'!
And she waved her gun around as though daring anyone to argue with her!
That of course caused more hilarity!
Break a leg!
The next stage will be rehearsals at the theatre. All the weeks of preparation will be leading up to those three days when the general public can come and watch. After all the hilarious rehearsals, clothes changes and read through's, those performances will be perfect. As they always are.
And me? Well I will be sitting on the sidelines, probably mouthing a few stuck lines to the actors, or running around helping them change costume.
Was it worth joining? Oh yes!
For anyone who really wants to act, work behind the scenes or just generally help out, just give your local Amateur Dramatic Studio a ring. I am sure they will welcome you with open arms.
And don't be nervous. We are all in it together, helping each other out. And its great fun!
The Marlow Players
The Marlow Players Theatre Group have been established for nearly 80 years. They were first formed in 1937 to bring amateur theatre to the local community.
There are two productions a year which are performed at the Shelley Theatre Marlow Buckinghamshire.
The Players rehearse, create and build their own sets in the Studio in Liston Road Marlow.
If you are interested in joining or wish to buy tickets to their next production which is:
A TOUCH OF DANGER by Francis Durbridge.
Please click on the link below:
(Thanks to Gloria for allowing me to use the photos etc)
Have you ever wanted to join your local Amateur Dramatics Society?
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Nell Rose