The brand new Liddesdale Performing Arts Society brought Copshaw audiences to their feet earlier this year – and made dreams come true for its founder, Claire Musson…
Before I moved to the Liddesdale valley in 2010, I had spent the previous ten years absorbed in the world of theatre, through my degree course, then as a drama teacher. In the Holm I witnessed a wonderful creative spirit, through dance shows, murder mystery evenings and the 1940s weekend. As 2018 came to a close I felt a sense of urgency – 2019 was the year I would direct my first show in Newcastleton.
I decided to start where my own love for theatre began: musicals. With a rich selection of singers at my disposal, I decided to showcase them with a Revue-style show.
I’d wake up on rehearsal day feeling nervous, but despite the angst, I’d come home in the evening relieved and elated – the cast were so responsive and engaged and …well… fun. My background was working with teenagers – who often didn’t listen, quickly forgot, and rarely said ‘Thank you’. Working with this cast was quite the opposite… such a breath of fresh air …and it reignited all that I loved about working in theatre.
However the week leading up to the show featured the usual strains. Moving into the village hall, and adding the technical aspects became my focus. We spent hours stopping and starting to get positioning right, sound/lighting cued – and scene changes quick and slick. I could see enthusiasm waning from the cast – they couldn’t remember the last time they’d sung a chorus number in full, with gusto, and it wasn’t feeling as good as rehearsing in the safety of the community room.
But I knew from experience, this was part of the process. As lights, sound and performance come together, there is a period of adjusting. I knew we were ready – the cast just needed to trust that it would come together, when it mattered (helped by a dose of urgency and healthy fear). And – thank goodness – it did. After a dodgy Dress run – the first night was perfect. The tech team nailed it – and so did the performers, brought to life by a supportive and warm audience. I couldn’t have been more proud.
The individual performances, and ensemble numbers were all fantastic in their own right, especially when one knows the personal journey of each performer. I was particularly pleased, in the end, with the pace and tone of the show as a whole; a colourful patchwork of musical genre and style that kept the show moving quickly and, boy did it fly by!
We had a little after-show party on the Saturday night, and it was so special to see the cast, from youngest to oldest, strutting their stuff on the dance floor. A new-found little community.
In early 2020 we’ll begin our next venture. I am aware people will have high expectations – so I am determined that it will be bigger and better. I have the same nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach – but I know I have a fabulous team around me and we can’t wait to begin.
Quote box: After a dodgy Dress run – the first night was perfect. The tech team nailed it – and so did the performers, brought to life by a supportive and warm audience. I couldn’t have been more proud.