The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society ladies mount an assault on Shakespeare with a startlingly original production of Macbeth, as their entry into a drama competition. Many mishaps occur but they struggle on regardless under the well mascara’d eyes of adjudicator, Mr. Peach.
Just for fun, we’ve held parallel interviews with Phil McCarthy, director of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production Of ‘Macbeth’ and with Plummer (played by actor Ian Orry) who’s directing Macbeth, the play within the play.
How are you getting on directing so many strong women? Do they do what they’re told?
Phil McCarthy: It is a cast of strong and experienced actors and not just strong women. They are actually easy to direct as it’s a collaborative process and so far it has been fun. In the main they have done what they’re told to date because its been hard graft so far to act a play within a play which makes fun of amateur theatre. Performing this type of play goes against all the rules you learn in amateur theatre and so is quite confusing.
Plummer: Well it’s a very strong cast of very strong women, so I am finding it quite challenging to get them to follow my direction. Being a man means that this is even more difficult, but I think they are beginning to respect my decisions: some of them even do almost what I ask. Sometimes.
Do you enjoy being judged by your peers?
Phil McCarthy:Yes I do when the judgement is not too pernickety. To be a judge you need perspective of what is important and what is not. See the bigger picture.
Plummer: Well now, this is a bit of a leading question isn’t it…”judged” sounds awfully judgemental! I think I’d prefer “appreciated”.
This is a classic play. How are you giving it personality?
Phil McCarthy: Few changes to the script plus props and dialogue to give a more contemporary appeal as it was written in the 70’s. Adding some local references too.
Plummer: Macbeth has always been close to my heart, being Scottish myself, and I have always yearned to direct it. Personality leaps from the page from the hand of the bard himself!
Do you prefer to direct Comedy or Tragedy?
Phil McCarthy: Comedy which I think is far harder to do because it’s hit or miss and there is no in-between. I love the sound of laughter too it’s therapeutic.
Plummer: Oh the tragedy just flies at you from the page, and I’m sure our audiences will feel that we give a tragic performance every time!
How long have you been part of the Company?
Phil McCarthy: 20-25 years at Lyceum Theatre Oldham
Plummer: 6 months for the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society.
As a director, what is your biggest challenge?
Phil McCarthy: Making sure the cast enjoy themselves at rehearsals whilst working really hard. The six weeks of rehearsals should be a mixture of graft and fun. That makes the actors more relaxed so they enjoy the performance and that is transmitted to the audience.
Plummer: I see my role as to get the cast to get as many lines as correct as possible in the correct order, whilst standing in the correct places!
Come and see who’s got the best job of the two from 2-10 June.
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