Category Archives: Am Dram Advice

Turning the spotlight on 2017

18th December 2017

The end of 2017 is almost upon us and what a year it’s been, with our twenty year anniversary and our newly penned play, A Brush, with Death, written to celebrate.

Amidst a whole host of changes to our website, we re-introduced Murdering The Text with We Must Be Doing Something Right, followed by 7 ways that Murdering The Text can help your amateur dramatics group.

We launched our new monthly am dram advice articles with 7 ways that amateur dramatics groups can keep their members (happy).

We told you about our custom written murder mystery play service in No murder mystery play to suit? No problem. We’ll write one for you, and later that month posted 10 ways to raise funds for your amateur dramatics group.

We explained our services in How does it work? Using a murder mystery play as a fundraiser and We act for money (or how to hire out your amateur dramatics group for murder mystery evenings).

Later that month, we posted another of our am dram advice articles, 7 ways to attract new members to your amateur dramatics group.

In October, we announced our special offer for new subscribers to our mailing list, and told you about our FAQs (frequently asked questions) page.

We finished the month off with How to dress your cast cheaply for a production set in the past.

November was a busy month as Murdering The Text moved house, we welcomed a new member to our Amateur Dramatics Groups For Hire family, and in Spreading the Magic we explained how to extend your productions beyond the edge of the stage.

December posts included Testimonials – hear what our customers have to say and Setting the scene for half the cost (or less).

We’ve one more post for you before we sign off for Christmas. In the meantime, I think we’ve earned a mince pie, or two.

Setting the scene for half the cost (or less)

11th December 2017

An integral part of any theatre performance – and an often forgotten member of the cast – is your stage design.

It adds depth to the magic of any show, whether set back behind a proscenium arch, thrusting out into your audience or in an outdoor setting.

Amateur dramatics groups have the added challenge of balancing cost with effect, creating a fitting backdrop for their performances without emptying the coffers.

Flats (stand alone pieces of set) are demolished, reshaped and repainted. Scenery panels are similarly refurbished, and props are put to further use.

Our plays are written to be low cost events that help you raise sufficient funds to stage the plays you ‘want’ to perform, so don’t fall into the trap of wasting your profits on unnecessary set design.

From personal experience of staging our plays, we’ve found lots of ways to save money when setting the scene.

Scenery

I’ve worked with some incredibly talented set designers and construction teams over the years but give them a break when it comes to your murder mystery evening.

There’s no need to go to the effort and expense of creating a backdrop for your play when black curtains will do the job with the possible addition of a ‘Backstage’ or ‘Platform 1’ sign.

Exits and entrances don’t need a specially created door frame, unless you have one to hand.

Lighting

Keep it simple.

Our plays require very few changes in lighting. Lights are mainly on or off.

The only changes to this are our split stage plays where the focus is on one half of the stage at a time.

Keep coloured lights, strobes and diffusing lens’ for your main productions.

Furniture and Props

Every piece of furniture or prop in our plays can be sourced at little or no expense.

Dive into your group’s existing stock. Small flats can be re-created and you may already have the furniture you need.

Group members and their families may be able to supply small furniture items such as a coffee table.

Ask your cast to use their own clothes, mobile phones or sports bags.

If your show will be performed in a church or community hall, utilise the chairs and tables that are already there.

At a push, visit a charity shop or the local Freecycle website for anything you can’t lay your hands on.

Spreading the Magic

30th November 2017

I’ve always thought it strange that a play should stop at the edge of the stage, and thinking back to my favourite customer productions and murder mysteries that I’ve taken part in, they’ve all gone beyond the boundary of the proscenium arch in one way or another.

Whatever the show format (drama play, comedy, musical, revue), there are always ways to extend the production out from the stage into the rest of the auditorium and ultimately enrich the audience’s experience.

1. Introductory and Interval Music

This is a wonderful chance to get your audience in the right mood for the tone of your production.

If you’ll be performing musical numbers, treat them to snippets of those songs.

If your play has a particular setting – circus, railway, zoo – then play music that is linked to that setting.

Music of the period of your murder mystery can prepare your audience for a play set in the 1960s or 1920s, for instance.

Play music of the correct mood. In our play On Her Way Out, a comical murder mystery set at an outward-bound centre, our characters run on and begin exercising to the rousing tones of ‘Something for the Weekend’ by Divine Comedy.

2. The Auditorium

Can you extend your stage set into the auditorium and visually pull your audience into the setting of the play?

A production about a street party could see bunting extend from the stage into the auditorium.

The decorations from a wedding – flowers, balloons, etc – could be used on the end of audience seating rows.

Other themes – Hallowe’en, railway, Christmas – can be used to decorate the auditorium too.

3. Front of House Staff

Why should the actors have all the fun?

Your front of house staff – bar, food servers, compere, ticket takers – can add an extra element to the magic by dressing up to suit your production.

They could be wedding guests at a production set at a wedding.

At a Hallowe’en production, a staff of witches, ghouls and werewolves would be fitting.

Let them act out their roles too. It all adds to the fun.

4. Food, Bar and Merchandise

In our play A Show To Die For, one of the characters alludes to the confectionery, Sherbet Dip, so at the first production, we had a box of Sherbet Dips for sale on our bar.

At another production, we made up cocktails with the characters’ names.

Even your raffle, if you hold one, can include items that link into your production.

Have fun matching the food, drinks and merchandise to your show.

5. Interval Entertainment

Add to the night’s entertainment with some activities during the interval.

In Bad Fortune, the murder victim is a fortune teller. Have a comedy fortune teller (who gives equally comic fortunes) set up in the auditorium.

If you’re performing a period play (1960s, 1980s), have a trivia quiz for that era.

For a wedding themed murder mystery, have a wedding disco or a wedding singer.

Making your audience a part of your production will not only enliven the evening but also ensure that they come back for more.