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BL Players (festivals)

Listed below are those productions where we weren't in any form of contest. There are only two at the moment and both took place as part of the biennial Wetherby Festival.

Apologies for the quality of some of the photographs again. Those from 1997 were taken at the rehearsal after we had let off the flash charge and room was a bit smoky. I also used the same cheap camera as with Blythe Spirit. I do have a better one now and used it for the 1999 pictures. I'm afraid that there are no photos of 'Not Bobby' from 1999 since I was busy doing the sound during the dress rehearsal and couldn't take any.

1997: Wetherby Festival (Coarse acting)

A break to reset the table The butler tells all Manoeuvering the table Louise looking sweet and innocent Fresh from our success during the summer of 1997, we decided on an ambitious project for out next production. As part of the aforementioned festival, the BL Players would put on a one night only extravaganza of coarse acting. Now coarse acting is a term coined by the author Michael Green to describe the way in which people who can't act, actually act. This is an hilarious concept and has produced four volumes containing over a dozen short comedies. They are characterised by poor acting, ridiculous sets that collapse and props that don't do what they are supposed to. Now it is the first bit that is the hardest to accomplish. In order to be convincing as a bad actor it is necessary to be a good actor first otherwise the thing looks like an uncontrolled dog's breakfast rather than a controlled dog's breakfast.

So with an expanded BL players cast, we recruited more people from the annual pantomimes, we set out on the rehearsals for the two plays to be performed. Streuth! is a murder mystery where everything goes wrong and the cast become caught in a loop where they are unable to get out of saying the same half a page of text over and over. A Selby Collier's Tuesday Tea is a drama that has as its main focus a large table where the legs fall off.

From the beginning it was obvious that some of the cast were uncomfortable with the parts (for some it was the first time that they had been in front of a paying audience.) However the main problem didn't surface until mid way through the rehearsals.

The books that Green writes usually contain four to five plays, each of twenty or so minutes, that are meant to be performed in one night. Since we had only chosen to do two plays, we were in the position of having 55 minutes of production, including a fifteen minute interval, and charging £3.50 for it. Not good. At this point the decision was to stick with two plays and attempt to build the other hour with off stage activities. We had already decided that the evening would be performed by a mythical group, The Upper Fletching On the Wold Amateur Operatic and Drama Society, so we merely expanded this idea. We had a quiz, a diabolical programme, a rigged raffle where thirteen people ended up winning the main prize, and a sing along where the accompaniment was Barry playing the piano slightly off key and my awful singing. The whole business was sponsored by The Archangel Clerical Cleaning Services ('there's nun better!') so we had their representatives. Barry as a bishop, Mark as a Curet and Louise as a Nun.

All we needed was a compare. Now this is where the Reverend Donald Halibut came in. As the group's chairman, I had to link all the bits and pieces together. For some strange reason, I decided to premiere my very dodgy and rather camp scottish accent. Over the years I have been perfecting it and used it as an alter for my Fairy Godmother character.

I've sort of gone on about the whole thing as being totally chaotic and to an extent it was. If you take only the plays, then the evening was a bit of a disaster, however as an overall evening where the majority of those in the audience really enjoyed themselves then it was a success. That being said, we will never do anything like it again and it did indefinitely end any chance of recruiting certain, rather good, people for future performances; which is a shame.

1999: Wetherby Festival (Rabbits and goldfish)

Mark struggles with a deckchair A happy couple, Mark and Nikki Nikki on the 'phone Mark and Lionel break for lunch Lorraine demonstrating an actor's life! Dermot struggles with the ladders Keen to make up for the dramatic failings (on stage at least) of the 1997 festival, we set out this year to perform only plays. Lionel chose Not Bobby by Nick Warburton, a story about a rabbit that learns to read and ends up going to school. I chose, as my directorial debut (for a paying audience at least) another play by David Tristram. the Extraordinary Revelations of Orca the Goldfish. An incredibly funny play about the fantasies of a married couple. From the outset it was going to be a drama show; no singalongs, no theatrical flashes and no one had to wear any religious costumes.

The first play had Lorraine and Dermot playing mother and son in a rather Mrs Merton and Malcolm role with Wendy taking on three different roles. It was more of a thoughtful comedy but still has some wonderful lines for those taking notice. Orca had Mark and Nikki in her first and last role for the BL Players (she moved) showcasing a variety of characters and accents to great success.

The two evenings were very well received; as I said we definitely laid the ghosts of the previous festival. They were also well attended, nearly 100 people over the two nights. This last point was quite important since I set up the whole production with the intent of making money with which we could acquire additional theatre infrastructure. I know that we generously receive funding from the BL Sports and Social Club, but it's nice to be able to 'pay your way.' In fact the whole business made a considerable profit and we were able to acquire make up and lighting equipment that was used to great effect in the 1999 panto

Well, that's if for the moment with the official British Library Players. As mentioned in the first page, there is an intention to perform Feeding the Ducks again in July. As far as any new productions go, we have been approached about something for a mini festival at Wetherby. I won't be involved since I am tied up with HADDS and Sessay at that time and I'm not sure whether anyone else has the time. Other than these, then definitely next spring for the 2001 one act play festival. Of course details will appear hear for anything new.

As with all the other groups, if there is anyone reading this who has some/more/better photographs for any of the productions then mail me and I will try to get some more pictures up. It makes the site so much more interesting.

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