TRISH TAKES FIVE: By blogger Trish Burgess
It’s only been a few weeks since my last am dram performance and already I’m itching to do more. In previous years, I would take a break for a few months but now that my son, Rory, is away at university, I feel I can commit to doing more than one production a year.
I’m usually more interested in the musicals but when I heard SADOS was proposing to stage the comedy, Family Planning, by Welsh playwright, Frank Vickery, I couldn’t resist auditioning. In 2006 I played the role of Nancy, a fraught mother in Frank Vickery’s one-act play, Split Ends. It was a great part - lots of shouting and ironing.
Family Planning is a full-length play, a farce with down-to-earth humour. It tells the story of young Tracy who discovers she is pregnant. Should she share the news with her boyfriend, her dependable mam or her hypochondriac dad? Best to confide in Gran, who is permanently ensconced in bed onstage. Dad overhears the conversation, thinks it relates to him and that he only has weeks to live. Add to that a sex-starved neighbour whose romantic aspirations come to the fore after liberal measures of gin and you have all the classic ingredients for a very funny show.
I went along to the auditions recently, thinking I was the right age for Elsie the mum or Maisie the neighbour. Time to polish up my Welsh accent with some re-runs of Gavin and Stacey and Stella on YouTube.
Thankfully, being a Geordie seems to help when trying to master the Welsh accent. It’s something to do with the rhythm and sing-song lilt in both. In fact, since I have lived away from home these last thirty-odd years, my accent has softened and on occasion I have been mistaken for Welsh - though not by anyone from Wales, who would think that was ridiculous.
During the audition the director, Brett and producer, Elaine, asked everyone to read for different characters so they could see how people worked together. They also suggested we try for parts which we might not have considered beforehand. Despite not planning to audition for Gran, I gamely read some of her lines during the afternoon. I’ve found that if directors ask you to read for a different part, then it’s best to give it a go - better that than come away with nothing. I drew the line at the young girl, Tracy, as that would certainly test the audience’s imagination, but an 81-year-old curmudgeonly granny was well within the realms of possibility.
A short deliberation by the directors and the play was cast. To my amazement, I was given the part of Gran. It would seem my recent reprisal of Mrs Overall has convinced people that being a doddery old woman is just up my alley. Just need to swap the Brummie accent for a Welsh one, alter her character and maybe get a new hairnet.
I now have a stack of lines to learn including a soliloquy that lasts for a page and a half. Whilst I’m doing that, make a date in your diary: Family Planning, South Holland Centre, Spalding, November 18 to 21.
Follow Trish on Twitter via @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com