Dreaming with your eyes open: Why joining amateur theatre may be for you

The theatre is a place where storytellers of all ages can band together to bring fantasy, comedy, history, mystery, romance, and any other genre you can think of, to life. A cast of actors and a crew of backstage and technical hands work like clockwork to execute a combination of light, sound, and props to transport its audience into another world; a world of make believe, where one can dream with their eyes open.

It is almost impossible to describe how a show comes together; there are so many elements and roles. For a production to take flight, it is the duty of a dedicated director to spark the process to begin creating the magic needed to transform words and directions on a script into the staged experience. Actors and actresses are called upon to audition for various roles, all equally as important. Once the cast is put into place, the rehearsal process begins.

Running every scene anew, discovering the characters’ habits and motives, building the scenes, imagining and putting yourself into the reality of the story and of course tapping into the emotion are all things that need to be worked on. When all these components have come together, the time for adding visual elements begins.

Costumes, lights, sound, props and stage set are built into the scene. Not to forget the work done by the front of house staff, costume designers, set builders and plenty more behind the scene roles. Finally when everything is fine-tuned, the show is set for the stage.

Opening night is the next hurdle. This is the first time that anyone outside the theatre has been witness to the story’s magic. Nerves elevate, side stage is abuzz with backstage crews checking props and set, and up in the biobox the technical crew is conducting last minute sound and light checks, all the actors are either touching up makeup, fixing costumes or running over their lines. The audience flows into the auditorium, the first scene is ready to go and the stage manager calls the show.

Time freezes in the silence, until the actors walk on stage ready and confident, not completely themselves but the characters they portray. Being on stage is like no other form of art. It’s in the moment and intimate. There is no room for flaws and everything flows with the story.

Finally it’s time that the show has come to an end and curtain call proceeds. The whole cast stands on stage ready to bow; you hear the cheer and the applause from the audience. The invigorating feeling that you have been able to share another story with the world and influence the emotions of the audience whether through laughter or sadness is overpowering. Theatre has a way of connecting people as human beings, reminding us of what that means; to share our experiences with each other. Every character you play, a piece of them stays with you.

Benefits of joining an amateur theatre:

  • Improves self-confidence: The theatre is a place where differences and ‘weirdness’ are encouraged and fostered.
  • Social outcomes: Every new show has a new cast, this opens up opportunities to meet new people and often work with people of all ages. Your theatre group soon becomes like a family.
  • Creativity: Theatre is an art form. It lets you enter the world of imagination and explore within yourself, your own creative juices.
  • Self expression: The theatre is immensely accepting of any personality, there is no need to be afraid of being yourself while at the theatre.

I asked amateur theatre director Benjamin Bray about his opinions on how the theatre contributes to the community and his experience working in the theatre scene.

What does the theatre offer and how does it benefit the community?

The theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive. Community theatre is a prime example of this as it is fueled by like-minded people who are passionate to keep it alive and thriving. Theatre provides a community with an outlet to play, and to be entertained, of course. It brings all types of people together and allows those with dreams beyond the norm to make them a reality.

How can youth get involved in amateur theatre?

The door is always open. Community theatre is a very inclusive venue whereby the doors are open to everyone. Youth who are interested in pursuing theatre have the option to attend classes that empower creativity and teach a fundamental understanding of stagecraft and theatre etiquette.

What is one of your highlights of story telling through theatre?

A highlight of community theatre is the ability to play and create. While there are a number of plays and musicals which tell stories of famous figures of the past, on a more community-based level, locals can experiment with stories of their own and their own experiences. This can clearly be seen in youth theatre whereby students will channel some of their own experiences to devise pieces of theatre. This process of devising has a more authentic and ‘raw’ feel as it is something they can relate to and make real.

Are you interested in becoming part of an amateur theatre? There are numerous companies across the Gold Coast. To list a few:

Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport
Javeenbah Theatre Company, Nerang
Spotlight Theatrical Company, Benowa
Goat Track Theatre, Helensvale, Ormeau, Tugun, Robina and Tambourine
Tweed Theatre Company, Tweed Heads
Beenleigh Theatre Group (also has a Junior Entertainer Theatre School), Beenleigh

Beenleigh Theatre Company is running a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this weekend 2-4 December. Tickets available here.

IMAGE (c) Charlotte Ham


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