Posted by Nick Hennegan on Thursday, October 10, 2013
I love the image above we are using for Under Milk Wood. It has a wistful quality to it and that is how I feel about some of our writers - especially Dylan Thomas, who was taken from us so tragically early. I also love Wales, and this image kind of sums up my schoolboy holidays in out-of-season seaside towns. This bench has seen a lot, you can just tell. And it quietly waits for the next joyful - or maybe melancholy - experience.
But enough wooden bench and more Milk Wood. He was a smart cooky, was our Dylan, and like most successful people he was also VERY focused. I think it's fair to say he was single minded and loved the notion of the drunken poet. Perhaps more than was the reality, but that is for another time. The current excitement is preparing for our Under Milk Wood. We have less than a month.
It might sound trite, but I really feel privileged that I am able to present this incredible play for voices in the very pub where Dylan met his wife, on the anniversary of the day, sixty years ago, that he left us. That was why I wanted to do it at this time and at this place. I want to feel closer to Dylan Thomas and this just feels like a cool thing to do. Spiritual almost.
BUT there is a big problem doing this play at this place. And like most things it comes down to money! I've managed to secure the rights, which is great, but that costs. Then there are the three unshakeable elements of any theatrical production. Size of Cast and Cost of Production, Ticket Price and Size of Venue and Length of Run.
I won't bore you with the figures, but there is a reason most plays above a pub have only a small cast. The biggest play I have written has four people in it! And then you want to run if for as long as possible to give yourself a chance of making back the money. And keep ticket prices as high as possible.
I pondered on this over a pint, sitting in the Wheatsheaf after one of our weekly pub crawls. Actors Suzi and Kate were doing great work. But the fact is that even the National Theatre only do Under Milk Wood occasionally, because it has a MASSIVE cast. By pint two I was feeling a bit depressed. We'd never make it work unless we charged hundreds of pounds a ticket. Then by pint three I had the answer. We'd all do it for nothing! And read the play as it was written, without any fancy sets or movement. Just read it as Dylan intended. Build it and they will come! So I booked the dates, got the licence and hunted around for a script.
So far we have 25 tickets sold, no actors or director and less than a month to go. I've been in touch with some fairly well known artists, mind. But we have less than a month to go. The casting call goes out tomorrow. It should have been today, but the casting company got back to me and said "How much are you paying? Nothing? Well.... okay...!"
Watch this space. More later in the week. When there will be less than less than a month to go!
Tags: theatre production dylan thomas wheatsheaf pub wales
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