This past Sunday marks the end of an excellent (if I do say so myself) production of The Lion in Winter by the Center Stage Players at the Shawnee Playhouse. I’d like to offer some insight into the process and the work of putting on a play of this nature.
First of all, a play is a big thing. The Lion in Winter has a cast of seven characters; I consider that a small number. The average Shakespeare play runs 10-15 actors with lots of doubling. Even with a small cast, the standard six-week schedule is busy. I participated in three days of set work, and the set designers did significantly more. On those days the theater got to be a noisy place. The work involved a lot of painting, hammering, drilling, and lifting furniture and set pieces. It’s fairly demanding work, but everyone does their part. Many Center Stage members lent props and furniture, and we ended up with a castle.
The technical side of acting is the most talked-about feature of theater, and the one with the most wonder associated with it. I found that during Lion, as with any other production, most of an actor’s unpleasant moments arise from line work. I enjoy auditions and cold readings for this reason; not only do you have constant access to the words on the page, but you also have the chance to read parts you won’t necessarily end up with. There’s a lot of freedom in that, and often when you spend your whole production playing one character you get curious about the others.
I hope to continue this soon. I had a great time working with Center Stage and the cast of The Lion in Winter.