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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 5. May 2, 1957

Back Stage Boys

Back Stage Boys

For some years I took part in the back stage work of Drama Club productions and I should like to comment on James Bertram's remarks about back-stage staffing in his review of the Cherry Orchard".

Time spent by a university student on as large a project as a play costs him more than it does members of other amateur groups; for them drama fills a day which otherwise stops at 5 o'clock. But to an actor in a good play even considerable sacrifices are well repaid. The rewards for back-stage work are not so certain.

If you have a small budget, tittle equipment and perhaps a demanding and unsympathetic producer, a tremendous labour is required to get even very ordinary results. The back-stage worker is then deprived of the opportunity to create. The actor always has this even in a poorly mounted play.

The Drama Club has never had sufficient capital equipment and it has not been able to protect what little it did have. This was partly due to [unclear: r] accommodation which will be [unclear: sooomedied] but the efforts of several dedicated men to get some order and continuity into the properties department have met with apathy from most of the club. One seems to find amongst varsity actors less appreciation of the value of good properties and lighting than in any other group in the city. Our ideal stage-worker must, one supposes, proceed alone and so requires an unusual combination of interests and abilities.

He must understand and love the art of the theatre and also have considerable technical knowledge and ability. If he lacks any of these there must be some encouragement to develop them. Too often those who gave their best to the Drama Club behind the scenes drift off after one or two productions. It seems worth noticing that Extrav. back-stage work has a much healthier tradition.

I do not think the problem can be solved as simply as James Bertram suggests. If the actors realised how much a play can depend on its mounting, if the club generally had a less abstract, more workmanlike, attitude to play production and saw the value of good technicians they would have a better team. If the Drama Club had more capital and better accommodation, back-stage work would be less laborious and frustrating. Workers will only join the club and stay if they find they have a real part in making the play.

Peter Andrews.