Proper Repertory Theatre, in which a mostly fixed group of actors take on a series of plays as a team in the same producing house for a season has pretty much died off in the UK. I believe the RSC still attempts to work in this way but it is an expensive way of approaching things and there are few that can attempt it. Clearly something similar continues with contemporary theatre companies which have a fairly stable set of actors. In these circumstances you look forward to seeing the same actors in fresh roles and settings, carrying with you memories of their previous performances. Unfortunately, because these companies tend to devise their own material and the actors tend to create that material you rarely see huge contrasts in these performances. One of the delicious side effect of repertory companies was to be able to watch someone who was The King last week relegated to be a Butler this week. Although the plays are different in repertory the ghosts of the actors previous roles still linger.
I take a similar pleasure seeing props in new roles. When Stan’s Cafe was in its early years we would scavenge props and scenery from the streets and skips of Birmingham and I always enjoyed the fact these objects brought a previous life with them to the stage. Now we recycle props whenever possible to add to their acting experience. The same table or chairs are used over and over, usually type cast as table and chair but playing different roles nevertheless.
Some of this thinking was in my mind when we were setting the rules for the Slot Together commissions which open at mac tonight. This Saturday and next four new performances are staged each is required to use a minimum of five props from a set of twelve available. I can’t wait to see what roles these objects play and if there is fun to be hand from watching their range. There will be some human actors on stage as well, I’m looking forward to these running through their paces as well.
I am looking forward to seeing Slot Together on Saturday. It’s always fun to partake in a bit of newly made theatre, partaking in four pieces in one night promises to be a quadruple treat. Each being twenty minutes long means if your joy of one starts to wain (which I’m sure won’t happen) the next piece will never be far off.