Rustington Players planning their 2021 productions

Zoom rehearsals are underway as the Rustington Players start planning their 2021 productions.

Friday, 8th January 2021, 11:00 am
Stevie Lambert
Stevie Lambert

Covid restrictions permitting, they will be offering The Fall and Rise of Gordon Grimshaw by Sussex author Sandy Truman in March. If they can’t perform it live, the production will be put back to June. There are no plans to deliver it by Zoom – though it was by Zoom that rehearsals started in November.

Directing will be Stevie Lambert who is delighted to be bringing Sandy’s play to the stage: “The group has its AGM in August and the decision was taken, because obviously the future is unknown, that it would be good to have something uplifting that everybody could look towards. With that in mind, I submitted, along with a couple of other people, some ideas, and they went for this comedy. The gut feeling was that after all the Covid doom and gloom it would be nice to have something light-hearted and frothy. And that sums it up to a degree.”

In the piece, a middle-aged couple retire to the seaside thinking it will be a new start of bliss and tranquillity. They get more than they bargained for, however, as the various neighbours each try to pull them into their different lifestyle choices, often with dire consequences.

“It was written by Sandy in the last ten years or so. She is a drama teacher and actress, and she thought she would put something down on paper and started coming up with ideas. She has written a couple of plays, and I was very lucky to meet her and gain something of her insight into the world of theatre.

“We did a play together a few years ago at the Connaught called In The Pink, and she was cast in the title role of Barbara Cartland, and we stayed in touch. I found working with her invaluable because of her skills and her experience. She is also a qualified drama teacher, and when we were working together in In The Pink she was able to give me advice about how a professional would approach the part, just little things where you can perhaps improve.

“She had this wealth of experience and I was able to learn so much from it. The problem with amdram is that everybody comes from an ordinary life background, whether they are a solicitor or a plumber or a cake baker, and they come into acting and nobody gives them any particular set of skills. Somebody might give feedback and say ‘Try this’ or ‘Try that’, but there is no professional skill set required.

“But when you get a chance to work with a professional, you really can improve. One of the things I learnt quite quickly is that in the world of acting, criticism is very much a part of it. Nobody walks on stage and does their part and everybody claps. There is always criticism at some point, and one of the things I have learnt is that a good actor will absorb it and take it on rather than fighting it.”

Stevie is delighted his cast are entering rehearsals with a similar mindset: “They are thrilled to be doing something, and I am so lucky that they are so enthusiastic and so willing, but also that they are very happy to be directed. They are looking forward to it. It is not ‘I am going to do this my way.’ They are very willing to be directed and interested in being directed.” Starting rehearsals on Zoom, however, certainly means a few adjustments. As Stevie stresses, it is not just about learning the lines, and when you are there in person it is so much easier to stress that this is the point where, say, a husband might put his arm around his wife or a married couple might stare into each other’s eyes: “It is those things that build up the character and they are things that usually you have to do early on and are sometimes left far too late.” Stevie’s challenge is to enable the actors to build their characters without him or they – for the moment – being in the same room as each other.