Saddleworth Players

Prompting for a pacy play

Ciao, I’m David Lyons and I joined Saddleworth Players at the tail end of last season in April.


Here I am now, writing this blog, letting you know about the play I’m prompting for, called Moonlight and Magnolias. At its core the play is a comedy, with an outer shell of farce. Yet, beneath these comic elements is a tragic undercurrent of social commentary. The play is set in 1930s America: World War II looms (albeit in distant Europe), and the place of Jewish immigrants, even those in Hollywood’s high ivory towers, is precarious.


The action focusses on three Hollywood big shots (and one secretary) frantically attempting to rewrite the screenplay for the epic Gone With The Wind in five days, with production closed down and executives breathing down the neck of the producer. Through the characters’ scrambling descent into madness, squalor, and banana strewn surroundings, the play also examines creative drive, the pressure of showbusiness and the responsibility of artists to represent things for how they are, or perhaps in Hollywood for how they are not.


When I originally sat amongst the cast and crew at the read through, the feature that struck as most obvious at first was the sheer pace and fluidity of the play, even then during our first experience of it together, huddled round, wondering how these characters, costumes, sets and scenes would all materialise before our collective gaze within the next couple of months.


As a result of this speed, trying to come between actors during intense, relentless scenes of creative delirium both real and acted, is a difficult task. Acting as prompt is always hard in the sense that you have to not only sometimes interrupt actors in full flow, some of whom may never stop unless they are stopped, but also because there is always a sense of waiting for someone to slip up. This is, however, a cynical approach overall, and a better idea is to encourage the actors, guide them when they lose their place and reassure them when they doubt their own abilities to remember their lines, something which is nearly always overstated.


Now the books are down, that ability is truly put to the test, but my faith in the actors delivering the end product is never in doubt… Question is, will their characters be able to do the same?


BOOK TICKETS to see Moonlight & Magnolias on our booking site.

David Lyons, Sep 17, 2017