Read Alive is presented by The Lord Lackbeards Touring Company in partnership with Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand. Read Alive specifically aims to give emerging directors and actors experience with texts and staging conventions from Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. The programme of staged readings challenges emerging directors to produce plays from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods in a single day. Actors arrive at 10am, are given their scripts, and work on them until a public staged reading at 4pm. We have staged five works so far: John Lyly’s Gallathea (c 1588) was performed in October 2016, Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage (c 1593) was performed in November and Nathan Field’s A Woman is a Weathercock (c 1609) in December 2015. In 2016 we’ve staged Ben Johnson’s The Alchemist and John Ford’s The Queen or The Excellency of Her Sex.
Feedback from our participants (directors, actors and audience alike) has been extremely positive. Our audience attendance rate is gradually growing.
We have had recurring audience members who clearly enjoy the format and the aliveness of the performance. The audiences in general enjoy the chance to see rarely performed plays as well as the organised chaos and creative havoc that comes from staging a play in so short a space of time. We do not charge an entry fee to the shows, we ask only for a voluntary donation on admittance so as to keep the programme as accessible as possible.
After each Read Alive session we have sent out feedback forms to the actors who have participated. As the actors are participating on a voluntary basis, it’s very important to us that they are satisfied with the experience. We are happy to report that every respondent has rated the overall experience positively. Importantly for 17 Tory Street, every respondent has also rated the venue positively. Other factors that participants have rated highly include
- Positive atmosphere
- Team work
- Having fun!
- A sense of communal celebration when the day is complete
- Lack of pressure
The directors have found the process to be a great way to cut their teeth. They get experience in:
- Leading a room of actors with varying skill sets (good communication is essential!)
- prepping a play for production which includes editing the text for time and coherency, making sure there is sufficient set and props for the story to be clear
- Gathering a cast and ensuring there are enough actors
- Running rehearsals under a tight time pressure
These are all skills that are imperative for directors to have and be confident with in theatre.
We would like to thank 17 Tory Street for being our venue for the last three Read Alive sessions. The venue is welcoming and friendly, and contributes to the feeling of a strong creative community we are endeavouring to foster with this programme.