Saddleworth Players

April in Paris: a blog by co-director, John L Matthews

Well it’s been a roller coaster week of final rehearsals, two dress rehearsals done in the last two nights. Both shows, even though they were completely different performances, would have been great live shows.

It has been fascinating how much the play has changed in four days. Liz and Paul, the actors, are able to change things really quickly. All I am doing as the director is sitting there as if I was you the audience, making sure it looks credible. It if does not look or feel right we stop and try a different way. That is where it gets tricky as if you are the one that stops it, you had better have some better ideas that might help it work. Otherwise you make it worse, not better.

For the last rehearsal, I ended up leaving work several hours earlier to go through the notes I made five weeks ago. I kept a diary and the prep notes for the opening scene alone were thirteen pages. Going through them a few weeks after making them, this was now an entirely different play! It’s also very funny.

Liz, Paul and myself have become thick as thieves, often talking at length on the phone, [sometimes for two hours!] about ideas and sending messages to each other non-stop. The best bit of directing the play goes on in the pub after the rehearsal. There we can reflect away from any pressure. But the temptation to have a pint is too great so I have been drinking far more often than I would normally. Also starting rehearsals at seven o-clock, even earlier like this week, which was often five, I have been eating processed rubbish, firing a whole pizza down in the White Lion, Delph the other night in five minutes flat.

My work is now done. The play is now the actors, and to be honest, it has been for the last few weeks. I wanted them to own it entirely. All I have done is help them find something that resonates and something they have confidence in and believe in. Rather than find a show, we tried to find some hard truths about relationships as that is what this play is about. The conversations in the interval last night were very revealing about what we have achieved. I hope you enjoy it. I’ve loved directing it, very much so.

Now what am I going to do?!

John L Matthews
0161 234 0099

April in Paris is directed by John L Matthews and Verity Mann. Ticket are available from

Photo by Jonty Wilde

John Matthews, Apr 8, 2018