We sat down with Theresa Mulkerrin with two weeks to go before the curtains go up on our September production – September in the Rain by John Godber.
Hi Theresa, we loved your performance in When We Are Married by J. B. Priestley in June, and now you’re directing September in the Rain – 2023 has been very busy for you! Have you directed before?
I’ve directed before, but not with the Progressive Players – this is my first time here. When the call came out for a Director in April 2023, I felt it was absolutely time to direct here – so I put my name in.
So, have you been working on September in the Rain since April?
Not quite. We like to make the process of finding a cast as fun and inclusive as possible, so we had an evening event at the start of June. Lots of people came and to really get a feel for the play we read Act 1 and then everyone has a chance to catch up over a drink in the bar. Every play has a Convenor or Production Administrator, so the next day they get in touch with the chosen cast and crew to get everything in motion – then the hard work of getting a play ready begins.
Yes, I really enjoy those evenings of a play reading and then a catch up in the bar – it’s great to chat with members, old and new! It’s interesting to hear about the different processes Directors take for plays – how did you start your rehearsal process?
As there are only two characters in the play, perfomed by Anna Collins and Trevor Whaley, my co-Director Lee Brannigan and I began rehearsals by reading the whole play and recording it so Anna and Trevor could use that to help with lines! With such a small cast we decided to really focus on the words of the play – getting into the characters by really understanding the purpose of particular words. As the play is based on John Godber’s family we really wanted to make sure we honoured what he wanted to portray. We have a rehearsal room at The Little Theatre Gateshead we call the Studio, so we started rehearsal in that space, then moved to the stage in mid-July.
Sitting here on the stage it looks amazing now the set has been built, can you tell us a bit about that process as well?
Oh absolutely! The set designers Mick Iverson and Robbie Carruthers will be delighted to hear you love what we came up with as a group. The Blackpool skyline painting was Lee’s idea and I think it will work so well with the projections we are using to help really bring Blackpool to the stage. The stage is set to give the illusion of two rooms, and we’ve got a fence to help create more of the locations from the play.
Right, you have just two weeks to go before audiences will be in to enjoy September in the Rain – what are you currently working on?
We’re really busy with the technical requirements for the play right now. Lee and I are working with Robbie Carruthers and Diane Girdlestone on the lighting, Robbie and Ben Brown on our projections and with Marian Walker and Sue Clark on sound. It’s putting the final pieces of the jigsaw together.
I’d better let you get back to those jobs then – thanks for sitting down with me this evening. It sounds like it’s going to be a marvellous production – I hope the next couple of weeks of work go well.