Introducing … Alastair Zyggu

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Alastair in rehearsals with Matthew Hattersley, Adam Carroll-Armstrong and Michael Loftus

Alastair is the director of our upcoming show Boy On A Bed

So, with now only one week to go before curtain up, I feel it is about time I should share a few thoughts and experiences with the wider world.  And if any of you ever thought that directing is easy, then let me tell you, you are completely wrong. This play has been a huge challenge in many ways for me, and as the cast are now nearing the stage in rehearsal known as despond… that moment when we all feel that we have given all we can to the play… it’s ready… we can perform it…do we really have to do another run through? another rehearsal?….. this is when the director is at his most vulnerable. He knows the play is not performance-ready yet, there is so much he wants to inject into the play…. but how? with tired and unreceptive actors?…. well, I do have a few tricks left up my sleeve, and we do have a wonderful video of a manatee banging it’s head against a glass wall to amuse us when all else fails!!

But let me dispel your thoughts that it is all doom and gloom… far from it. The rehearsal process so far has been very enjoyable… and to watch the four young actors take on challenging and difficult roles and grow with them has been very rewarding indeed. It has been quite a long process…. but that is quite normal within Fringe Theatre; having to accommodate jobs and other commitments. It is a rather frustrating thing to have disjointed rehearsals and generally I am not an advocate of evening rehearsals either, but needs must, as the saying goes. However we have been extremely fortunate to have had a centrally located rehearsal venue and to have had the same venue throughout the rehearsal period.

At this time I take my hat off to 6 people.  First time should be to the writer of the piece, Edwin Preece, who has pitched his tent way down south in uncharted territory; but made the journey up to Manchester one Sunday to see a rehearsal and travelled back home the same day!  Good on you, mate… as they say locally!

Second, to the four cast members who have to at every rehearsal put up with my indecision and inarticulacy!! Fortunately they know me now, and just ignore me!! And finally to the young lady who has been so far of invaluable help, but has a job which rarely receives any attention let alone praise….. Lauren, who is basically doing three jobs in one right now… ASM, DSM and SM!!  Of course there are others but this is MY blog and so I shall let these unspoken of and unsung tell their own stories, and I shall get on with mine!

Some people have asked me…. what drew me to direct this play? Why this play in particular? …. and the answer is, if I am completely honest, threefold.  One, I wanted to direct a play …  not a farce, not a tragedy, not a Musical, not something that could easily be pigeonholed and therefore allow for pre-expectations on the part of the audience …. something new and something with no “label”……, and so, after reading Boy On A Bed, I knew that I had found such a play.  Two, I wanted to be challenged and stretched as a director. And again, after reading this play, I knew that this would be so. And thirdly, since I am wanting to promote myself too, (that is the nature of the beast), what better vehicle than to be directing for a well-respected and award-winning production company and having the play performed at one of the UK’s premier theatres!!… so, yes, even directors are entitled to be egoists every now and then!!

The play itself is through-written. This means there are no scenes, and all the dialogue is continuous, but takes place in four different locations, sometimes simultaneously.  There is music, laughter, love, sex, partial nudity, anger, hatred, betrayal, and of course quite a bit of running, painting and sketching going on too.  So, really nothing more than your average Saturday afternoon stroll in the park!

The other thing that I have been asked is, “But it’s a gay play; and you’re not gay. How does that work?” And of course to these people, I have to answer quite honestly that of course it matters not one jot what a director’s sexuality is. The play’s the thing!! I happen to like the play, and that’s all that matters, and as for the actors…. well, they are actors! It is their job to pretend to be different characters. That’s what they do; so again does it matter?.. of course not.  And if any are still unsure about this, then I suggest you come along and see for yourselves next week to make your own decision!

 

What is a director?

Well, for a start he is not a director. That is a complete misnomer. In fact, the English language is a little strange that way, since a conductor doesn’t conduct either!!  Anyway, I digress. The main and most important aim of a director is to oversee, facilitate and manage many disparate thoughts, ideas, personalities, designs and aims and to bring them all together in one cohesive and fluid whole; whilst at the same time being true to the author’s original intent and  making the whole understandable and entertaining with characters that truly live and can keep an audience watching them for the duration of the performance.  A rather convoluted explanation, and I am sure there have been better, but that’s basically it!! Naturally he also wants to bring his own ideas to bear, and put his “stamp” on the production; and so do the other members of the creative team… set designer, lighting designer, costume designer, sound technician, Musical Director, Choreographer, Fight Arranger, Dialect Coach, etc etc etc….. not to mention the fact that all these people including the director are all responsible to the Producer.  A usually unseen presence and driving force of the company, there to make sure everything happens when and how it is supposed to happen; and to be the someone who has the final word in times of dispute.

 

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Boy On A Bed, visit our website.

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