I’m sitting in my office at the college, waiting to see the Drama Club’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts.” I’m the advisor for the club, but I’ve had very little to do with this student-led production, and that was an intentional choice. The Club has done some one-act plays in previous semesters, very successfully I might add, but late in the fall term I was approached by Alex Meyer, one of my students, who wanted to propose that the Drama Club do “Ghosts” as the winter production.
Now “Ghosts” is a big leap from the one-acts they’ve been producing, but Alex had read Ibsen’s play several times and was keen to direct it. So I told him to pitch it to the Drama Club members. Partially because he was so passionate and convincing, and partially because no one else had a better idea, “Ghosts” was approved and the ball started rolling.
I’ll know in a bit over an hour how well they’ve done with some very challenging material. But regardless of the artistic outcome, I’m very proud that the Club, and Alex in particular, took the big step of tackling a full-length period play and brought it to a successful conclusion.
Self producing is a growing topic in theatre, partially driven by the financial troubles of regional theatre companies. Rather than waiting for opportunities, some actors are starting their own groups and producing shows they want to produce. The costs of doing a small local production are manageable, with rental costs for a venue often the most expensive part of the budget (and sometimes the sticking point). But royalties are not onerous for non-musical plays, and costumes, props and scenery can be begged and borrowed. That’s why I think what Alex and the Drama Club have done is so important. They wanted to do something, and rather than wait for someone else to do it or for permission to be granted, they went out and did it.
Congratulations to everyone involved with the show. Now you know what it’s like to self produce a play, and hopefully it won’t be the last time you attempt it. I firmly believe we need more art, and that if you’re going to do something, you should start with quality, like Ibsen. I’d much rather fail artistically with something strong like “Ghosts” than succeed with a lesser script.
UPDATE: Very well done. Well developed characters, the simple set wasn’t flashy but served the story, costumes helped define the period (as the should — and a hat tip to my colleague Lisa Sturtridge for her help to the Club here). Overall, a most impressive result. Congrats to Chuck Tinker as well, both for his performance in “Ghosts” and for being the force behind the re-established Drama Club over the past year.