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  • Writer's pictureAnne Bassi

'Dear Players'...a Director's view

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

In the fourth entry in our blog series, Dear Players, we find out from our very own in-house Director, Anne Bassi, about how a Director turns their vision into reality for our audiences.

Really, Anne is one of our modern day founder members. She joined in 1991 and has steadily built up her experience from cast member to director. She took on her first production in 2001 with Ski Whizz - it remains our biggest ever box office success!

Here she shares with us a glimpse into a director's mind - what are we trying to achieve when we produce a play, and how do we take our audiences on that journey? Welcome Anne to the Players' blog!

"A director breathes life into a script. The life that is created is precious. It doesn't last very long but the hope is always that the effects of that 'life' are both long-lasting and far-reaching both on and off the stage.

Director Anne Bassi works on make up during the House of Frankenstein production in 2015.
Anne works on make-up backstage during House of Frankenstien, 2015.

"Directing is not an easy job. Directors are the vision-makers, the spokespeople, the motivators, the sympathisers, the organisers, the worriers. There are so many things that need to come together at just the right moment, with the right rhythm, the right look, the right beat. And all of this starts off in the director's mind; it's quite nerve-wracking.

Martin Parham crosses the stage on a tobogan during Ski Whizz, 2001.
Anne's vision for Ski Whizz included a toboggan run across the stage, 2001.

"My first play was Ski Whizz in 2001. I began by worrying about which play I should do...and so the saying goes: nothing changes. I always worry about finding the right script for us, you know, 'the one'. And then I come across a script that either makes me laugh out loud, or sob uncontrollably.

"Once the words have touched my heart, before I am sure we will commit, I need to see it in my head. I need to be able to see the characters, feel their sorrows, their joy, their fears. I need to see them interact with each other and understand each one's motivation."
The cast of Humble Boy, 2016, stand with director Anne Bassi.
Reunited husband and wife Jim and Flora melted our hearts in Anne's production of Humble Boy, 2016.

"Then I need to make sure we can create this 'life' together. Do we have the cast? Can we overcome any staging issues? Is the content suitable? Do we have the technical equipment? Is the licence available?

"And then the hard work begins bringing together all the elements: auditions, casting, acting, set, lighting, music, costumes and makeup, front of house...everything! Discussions about how the image in the mind can be born on stage. And then comes the abundance.

Director Anne Bassi gives a pep talk to the cast of The Wizard of Oz during dress rehearsals in 2017.
Anne briefs the cast of The Wizard of Oz, 2017.

"We all have our specialties, too, both on and off the stage, and that is what makes us such a strong team. For example, Michele is great playing oddball characters (our very own Johnny Depp); Lis is a marketing and advertising genius (our very own Saatchi and Saatchi), Amanda can paint sets like Michelangelo; John and Jack, up in the sound and lighting box, are like Zeus playing with the elements. Meanwhile, Carolyn makes realistic props from scraps of nothing! Our talents are endless.

Leone Hartnell plays mother, Vi, to Mary (Lis Parham).
A mother reaches out to her daughter from beyond the grave in The Memory of Water, directed by Anne Bassi.

"And we help each other grow and learn different skills, play by play. The life that we create on stage permeates our own: enhancing our skills, making new friends, supporting each other's challenges and wiping each other's tears, both from sadness and laughter.

"In my experience, directing is not just about making sure art reflects life. It is life."

"In the words of Oscar Wilde: “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

Anne sots centre with the rest of the cast from A View from the Bridge.
Anne plays Beatrice in A View from the Bridge, 2016.

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Pictured top to bottom, left to right: Anne directs the cast of The Wizard of Oz during dress rehearsals. It was one of the biggest casts in Players' history!; Anne works with the cast of The Memory of Water ahead of their first performance; Anne stands with the cast of The House of Frankenstein and the author, Martin Downing; Steve Canning sits on the set of Humble Boy as lead Felix. As part of Anne's vision, the set had a full array of flowers, tree swing and even a falling apple; the cast of The Wizard of Oz dance against the beautiful set painted by Penny Fuller and backstage team; Anne chuckles as Martin Parham clips the set once again during practise toboggan runs during Ski Whizz. Note, he never hit the set during any performances!

See more images in our gallery.

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