The Drama Club’s 70th Anniversary Party on 10 September provided an opportunity to meet up with old friends and also delivered a timely reminder of the comradeship which has been a feature of the club for as long as most of us can remember. It is a sad fact that the group of actors and production personnel who resurrected the club in 1998 after a four year hiatus are getting older as are those who joined along the way to create a solid core of talent which has been reflected in our productions over nearly twenty years. Age does bring advantages, not least experience and stagecraft, but it also diminishes energy and this can lead to a lessening of enthusiasm for putting yourself on the line for several nights once or twice a year.
Most actors will tell you that as they stand at the side of the stage waiting for their first entrance they question why on earth they are doing this when they could be sitting at home enjoying a good dinner and a few glasses of wine. Once on stage and underway the nerves dissipate and adrenalin takes over, producing the high that everyone feels at the end of a performance, a feeling of wellbeing that obliterates the bad moments and periods of boredom which arise in even the best-regulated productions. It is important to maintain the momentum that such euphoria generates and that is why the party was an important event for the club.
We have often contemplated how our club differs from others in the area and drama clubs generally. For many acting is the most important thing in a performer’s life. Many amateur actors move seamlessly from one production to another. It is not uncommon for an actor to finish one production on a Saturday night and reconvene a few hours later to rehearse another. Many will be involved simultaneously in more than one production, a state of affairs which must cause untold logistical problems for producers and directors. That has never been our way. Acting and contributing in the other critical roles in a production is important and is taken seriously. However, it is not the be all and end all in our members’ lives. Most of us got and remain involved not just because we enjoy the buzz of a production or such adulation as comes our way from time to time. Rather, the club provides an opportunity to work with others towards a common goal and enjoy the social benefits of that interaction.
We are all very much aware that our audience pays good money to see us perform and deserves that we give our best. In that we are no different to those actors who devote huge chunks of their lives to their thespian activities. Where we do differ is that, perhaps, we don’t take ourselves or drama quite as seriously as some. Whether that limits the effectiveness of our productions is a matter for our audience which has shown us great loyalty over the years.
So, as we contemplate our February production with the prospect of turning out on chilly dark evenings and Sunday afternoons, what will drive us all is the memory of the enormous satisfaction we all derive from our efforts.