Playwright Hilary Bell gives us an insight into our upcoming Page to Stage course for Beached.

Griffin and I are very excited about the new course we’re launching in June. While our other courses focus on the practical side of directing, acting and playwriting, this is something quite different. 

It is designed to give an insight into how a play is made and mounted, and is aimed at people who are passionate about theatre while not necessarily being aspiring artists – although it may also be eye-opening for artists interested in what it takes to get a show up.

Even for dedicated theatre-goers, there’s an air of mystery around how a script makes its journey from the dramatist’s desk to the footlights. In between, it must traverse a terrain of readers, casting directors, designers, composers, publicists… all before the first audience member mounts the stairs.

As a playwright, I’m fascinated by the process of translating ideas into action, and then action back into ideas – the alchemy that is created by a writer, her collaborators, and the audience. This transaction is essentially what ‘From Page To Stage’ is about: the spark in a writer’s head finding form in the bodies of actors, the colours and textures of design, even the poster’s typeface, to finally explode in front of an audience.

So what does this all mean in practical terms? That this is not a writing class, but a course of ‘conversations’ with the key figures involved in a play’s production.

– We’ll begin by comparing an early draft with the final draft of the play. We’ll have the dramaturge on hand to talk about the changes that were made and why.

– Next we’ll spend time with Griffin’s artistic staff, discovering why a certain play is chosen and how its production is planned.

– We’ll visit the rehearsal room, and after meeting the actors watch them at work on the script.

– We’ll meet the play’s director and creative team, learning about the various design elements and the reasons for certain choices.

– We’ll spend a session pretending to be publicists, looking at how press releases are created to sell a show.

– We’ll attend a dress rehearsal.

– We’ll be guests on Opening Night.

– And we’ll finish off with a debrief, hosting a critic who will have seen the show and can weigh in from a professional perspective.

So, you’ll see why I’m looking forward to kicking this off. It’s a chance to examine the mechanics of making the ephemeral experience that is theatre. It’s about the necessary work done by invisible hands behind the scenes. And it’s an opportunity to be part of the process of putting on a show.

I hope you can come along.

Hilary Bell.

For more info on the Page to Stage workshop, click here.