Arsenic and Old Lace – A Word From The Director

Greystones Players resident director, Aideen Walton gives her account on what it’s like to direct and produce a radio play entirely on Zoom.

“I’m a huge fan of radio drama and, aside from its intrinsic qualities that stimulate the listening audience’s imaginations, I love the idea of everyone gathered around the radio to listen together, at the same time, as they did in the early decades of the last century. I hope the way in which we’ve chosen to present this production might offer us all an opportunity to experience that shared listening.

When COVID hit last year, Greystones Players were in the process of beginning rehearsals for our Spring production.  As with everyone in the theatre and performing arts world, our plans had to be abandoned. However, a number of GP members continued getting together for drama workshops and play readings on Zoom and, in our innocence, we decided to venture into radio drama.

Working on Arsenic & Old Lace and creating a radio play via Zoom has been quite the learning journey for all concerned. While normally working in theatre, everything is so alive, immediate, happening in the moment and depends so much on the physical presence, chemistry and timing of the ensemble members together, the frustrations of rehearsing on-line and the limitations of Wifi, Zoom and all the accompanying sound issues, were immensely challenging for everyone. Even for radio plays, actors are normally in studio together and have an immediacy of chemistry with which to work. For the current production, rehearsals and recording, each actor was working from their individual home spaces – attic, living room, bedroom or, even, in Nicole McLaughlin’s case, her car!  So, aside from rehearsal challenges, recording could be, at times, a nightmare and our resulting sound issues, needless to say, abundant!

Enter Stage Left, Pete O’Neill to the rescue! The talented and ever-patient Pete O’Neill volunteered to work with us and brought all his sound design wizardry and skills to bear on our far from perfect recordings. Little did he know, or even I at that point, the amount of work involved in transforming our rough recordings into something we would be proud to present.  I cannot thank him enough for his time, input, patience and persistence in getting things as right as was possible.

And, as for my wonderful actors, I am so proud of our ensemble’s work and their spirit of persistence and good humour throughout it all, even when I’d to call them together for, what seemed like, the thousandth time for retakes. We really had a blast and I hope our production of this delightful skirmish of a play reflects how much fun we’ve had in putting it together. “

Greystones players radio version of Arsenic and Old Lace, written by Joseph Kesselring premieres for one night only at 8pm on Sunday 23rd May via the Whale Theatre facebook page. 

Broadcast by kind permission of Josef Weinberger Ltd.

 

 

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