Nicola Bache reflects on her first time as a director.
Nicola first took to the stage with her previous theatre group, stating “I want to do that” after a couple of glasses of wine. She has been a member of the Progressive Players for almost six years, wowing audiences in various productions including Strictly Murder, No Dinner for Sinners and most recently Relatively Speaking. Nicola has also been prompt, assistant director and has helped in props. The Wasp is her directing debut, and we asked her about her experience.
When did you decide you were ready to direct a play?
I’ve done a lot of acting and I wanted to stretch myself and go into directing. I’ve been tempted before but was never brave enough. When The Wasp was chosen, it was a no-brainer. I know the play so well and enjoyed it so much when I saw it in London, and so it was the push I needed. It’s a small cast with a simple set and so I thought it was a good start to being a director.
What’s your process been like as a director?
First of all, having seen the play first, I read the script a hundred times making notes and thinking about how I could bring it to life. When I saw the play it was done in the round, so I wanted to create that same closeness with our audience. We spent the first few weeks of rehearsals blocking and then just started building the characters.
I had planned to plan, with a rehearsal schedule, but I haven’t stuck to that at all! Instead, we’ve just come in, started at the beginning, and built up the play from there. I’ve learnt from many good directors here at the PP’s, and I know what I liked as an actress, and so I’ve taken it as it comes.
What’s it like to be in the shoes of the director in a rehearsal?
I have found that I like doing full runs, and so instead of having specific scenes to practice in a rehearsal, we just do a full run with notes at the end of each act.
I always let the cast go the whole way through, I don’t interrupt them, and then afterwards we talk about things that were good or need changing.
What were you most looking forward to as director?
Developing the characters and getting the right actors together. Once you’ve got the cast, and the chemistry is right, you’re three quarters of the way there.
Was there anything you were not looking forward to?
The amount of work! (Laughs)
Even though it’s been a huge time commitment, it’s not been off-putting. It is a huge project but with every rehearsal I see it taking shape, and it’s very exciting.
Have there been any surprises?
How much I’m enjoying it! I thought I would find it really hard, but I’m enjoying it.
What has the support from the rest of the PP’s been like?
The support has been fantastic I have to say, with every aspect of the PP’s process falling into place. For example, the ladies on props have been a really big help and when we had a few prompt changes it was all sorted out. Other directors have offered support and so I know I have that to fall back on.
Lastly, what would you say to someone who is considering directing?
Go for it. Absolutely do it.
Provided you’ve got enough experience of being an actor and have some stage craft all you need is to be keen and driven. Be ready to have all your time taken up during the whole rehearsal period, but other than that it’s a great experience. There’s nothing to be scared of… well there is… but collaboration is a big thing, and everyone pitches in and helps.