There’s a magic in puling together a show with a new Ensemble who have never worked together, with minimal rehearsal, 6hrs on stage before a performance in front on an invited audience. The UK/US creative team in Dammam have an added series of challenges. Many of the people performing have day jobs, and have never performed in front of an audience. Every instruction is offered bilingually. Most have never danced or performed West End numbers. Most have no reference vocabulary to Broadway Musical Theatre.
Our director is completely calm. Our artistic director is helping to explore how an unfamiliar lighting board works (unfamiliar to everyone I think). Our designer seeks to get the ensemble of 20 to bring in clothing around a carefully considered palette. Our musical director tries to see the performers from a rather low vantage point in this unfamiliar space (as we hope a piano rosta will be built in time). We add to this a catering aspect to the sharing, and a certificate ceremony, and filming/photography.
The performers are there to be guided through this unfamiliar process of a Musical Theatre tec and staging call. The calmer and more disciplined our creative team are, the more that is reflected in the concentration and preparedness of the company.
It is an immense tribute to the lifetime of training and professional practice which each of the creative team bring to the room. Almost nothing can phase them as they steadily move forward.
As the producer/project creator, my role is to be there when they need me. To take some of the inevitable more challenging moments and try not to exacerbate them. [I’ve not always managed that and am grateful to some of the team for bringing me back from the edge].
In two weeks time we will all be back in the UK or US to reflect on the experience. The Ministry and those who have engaged us will, I hope, also reflect on the phenomenal change which has been witnessed between the moment the participants walked into the rehearsal space less than 40hrs ago, and now as they embrace this discipline.
There are some participants who are ready for professional long-form training. There are some who have opened their souls to new ways of self-expression. And there are some who will be happy they have got a certificate of attendance. I look forward to seeing the journey many of these wonderful risk-takers will go on over the next 5 to 10 years.
Thank you for this at times exhausting opportunity. We have all learned so much about the individuals and their community in this Kingdom