The Show Goes On
Since I last wrote a few words about my exploits with La Troupe d’Acteurs du Quercy things have moved on. Well, they do don’t they? The sands of time and all that. From a personal point of view I have really enjoyed the opportunity to murder a few people (on paper of course) and cavort around the stage being, at various times, a failing businessman, a lecherous colonel, a harassed fête organiser, an undertaker’s assistant, a catholic priest and most recently a manic Russian gangster.
I can hardly believe that it is six years since I put finger to keyboard to write my first article about the Troupe. Next year will be the tenth anniversary of our first play. Amazing!
Many of the original members are still with us and fortunately there have been enough new people joining for us still to have a choice when casting for a new production. I must admit that these days I tend to read carefully through the script looking for a part that doesn’t call for a lot of jumping or falling over (knees and bruises) or a lot of lines (memory).
So, what has the Troupe ‘done’ over these years? Of course, there has been a pantomime each January and in 2012 planning is well advanced for Alice in Wonderland. The others have been (since the beginning) Cinderella, Aladin, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, Mother Goose, Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and last year it was Beauty and the Beast. Cinderella twice? Why not? If Hollywood can do it why not Frollywood?
Although we have continued to use scripts written by members we have also performed pantomimes written professionally. Each pantomime has continued the tradition of combining English and French which has resulted in a mixed audience including a French contingent who have come to appreciate typical English pantomime humour. (Oh, yes they have!). A regular part of the pantomime schedule now sees over a hundred French children from local schools come to a special performance on the Friday afternoon.
Murder In The Quercy
Murder mystery plays have always been popular with our audience since our first one in September 2002. In more recent times we have in turn murdered Lord Lucan, a private detective and a cranky retired female university professor, variously using a piece of lead pipe, a crossbow and a throw over the upstairs banister of the staircase in an old people’s home.
Sometimes casting presents challenges because of the age of our members. However, in the pantomimes and reviews we have benefited hugely from being joined by members whose children have brought with them their youthful energy particularly in the dancing routines, leaving some of the older members looking on with a sense of envy (and weariness).
We always try to enhance our performances with special effects. We frequently use pyrotechnics, fog, psychedelic lighting and special scenery created specially for each performance. For Cinderella 2 we were able to use a real pony to pull her coach as she left for the ball. (Fortunately the pony behaved immaculately.)
Not all of the members want to be on stage and we have a dedicated number who make the productions a great success by their support with scenery, costumes, make-up, lighting, sound, stage management, sales and front of house activities.
Our audience is very loyal and many people travel considerable distances to support us. People have been known to fly from England choosing their travel dates to coincide with a production. We always try to offer the audience something they will enjoy and a recent development has been the introduction of a ‘picnic’ performance where we invite people to bring their own food and drink and we set up tables where they and their friends can enjoy a social evening alongside the performance. We have invested money in improved equipment to enhance lighting on the stage and sound equipment to improve the ‘viewing experience’ for everyone whether at the front or the back of the hall.
The troupe has a social life with various events either to raise money or just to share the experience of being members of a successful amateur dramatic society. The troupe continues to welcome new members and anyone interested should contact Lu Mills 05 63 95 22 82 [email protected]
© Roger Lee 2011