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Exeter Drama Company

The Noble Spaniard - June 1991

The process of putting together a play starts at the Annual General Meeting of the Drama Company in June. The plays for the forthcoming year are agreed in principle - for instance one comedy, one murder mystery etc. The directors of the plays are allocated. While one play is being produced, a play reading for the next is held. Any full member of the Drama Company who is interested in that particular play is welcome, and the play is read through using the scripts with various people reading different parts. The member then lets the Director know which parts they would be interested in. The director usually decides within a few weeks of the play reading who he or she wishes to play which parts, and casts the play. This play, the Noble Spaniard, was chosen by the Director, Ian Guy. It's an eighteenth century comedy set in France, the tale surrounding the French aristocracy, the protgonists are plagued by misunderstandings, misguided loyalty and misplaced honour. As soon as the previous play has finished its run, the hard work begins. The set is stripped bare. There is a lot of discussion, pointing, scratching of heads and cups of tea made as the layout of the stage for the new play is agreed and takes place. Sometimes the work is so exhausting that people almost fall asleep on their feet.

The Noble Spaniard - Putting Together the Stage

The process is very similar to decorating a house - although on the stage even the walls have to be put up in the right places! Everything is painted by hand, and gradually it all starts to take shape.

The Noble Spaniard - Decorating the Stage

We are very lucky at Exeter Drama Company that we can rehearse on the stage on which the play will later be performed to the audience. So rehersals are going on at the same time as the stage is being prepared. For about the first month of rehersals, the actors read their lines from their scripts or books, working with the Director as to how and when he or she wants the lines delivered and where to stand on the stage.

The Noble Spaniard - Acting with Books

Then the Director issues the order "no books!" and the actors have to rehearse having learnt the lines. The security blanket has gone. As the rehersals are taking place and the stage is being decorated, items to be used as props are also being tracked down. Until they have been found, the actors use anything they have to hand. This strange prickly ball is meant to represent a bunch of flowers.

The Noble Spaniard - Prickly Ball as Prop

And this children's plastic sword is used to choreograph a fight scene.

The Noble Spaniard - Plastic Sword

The week before the play is due to start is the dress and technical rehearsal. Everyone has their make up put on and wears their costumes.

The Noble Spaniard - Make Up

Even at this late stage, the Director still has plenty of advice for the cast.

The Noble Spaniard - The Dress Rehearsal

At long last its the first night. The audience are seated. The actors are in the wings, getting ready with last minute touches, costume changes, and one or two who shall remain nameless still looking at their lines! Then the curtain goes up, and the play begins........... Remember that prickly ball that was a bouquet?

The Noble Spaniard - Lady Proudfoot and Justice Proudfoot

And the sword fight?

The Noble Spaniard - Justice Proudfoot and The Duke of Hermanos

After four or five performances, its the end of the last night. The actors take a bow, and with the audience applause ringing in their ears..... ..........they're off to the last night party before the whole process begins again for the next play.

The Noble Spaniard - Countess de Moret, Lucy, Marion Nairne, Mary-Jane and Lady Proudfoot

Lady Proudfoot     Pam Slee
Mr Justice Proudfoot     Malcolme Littler
Marion Nairne     Frances Guy
Lucy     Kirsty Evans
Mary-Jane     Annie Scrase
Captain Chalford     Tony Heath
Count de Moret     David Frumin
Countess de Moret     Pamela Hoad
The Duke of Hermanos Nigel Guy
Directed by     Ian Guy