When producing independent theatre, every set of hands, every brain, left and right, every single enthusiastic mofo, contributes significantly to the end product. With $350 for set at hand, each length of Gaffa tape has to travel a long way. Enthused volunteers are valued greatly. My ex-boss, Peter Davidson, once wrote that independent theatre runs at the smell of an oily rag and this enraged me. It implies that all this wonderful stuff happens effortlessly. Blood, sweat and tears are more gallant associations.
Nonetheless, it happens, and the processes are magical. Theatre makers are the elves that sneak in to make the shoes during the night. Here, generous volunteer Chrissie Robinson tends to the production line of milk bottles for Tuesday; Blackened, labelled and shelved to the strictest standards. Previous to this, they were saved from your local breakfast cafes, washed thoroughly to prevent that rank milk odor, and lovingly spruced with a sprinkling of baking soda. All this to appear as if no effort has been required at all.
When I attended ballet classes (yes,) my instructor, Tim Harbour, would insist that despite the multitudes of muscle fibers constricting and conforming against one another throughout your vigorously yet subtly quivering body, it ultimately has to appear graceful and effortless. This is the intention of design.
Of course, poor theatre, and other such Brechtian-type theatre styles are exceptions, but generally, when an audience member pays $25 to see a show, they expect a very, very well detailed set.
Sometimes, it’s hard to get good staff when you’re paying them bupkis. What: Drinking eating and quarreling?!
[There was an image here before, but I’ve had to remove it because it was a potential spoiler. I’ll put it back up after the season has finished.] (I Love brackets, don’t you?)