Love’s Time’s Beggar ***1/2

The word ‘amateur’ comes with a lot of stigma, especially when it comes to amateur dramatics.  One tends to think of falling scenery and wooden line delivery, the type of theatre one is forced to go to out of kindness, sympathy or support (many times all three) rather than for enjoyment.

And yet, ‘amateur’ is actually quite a positive word, when looked at in the correct context.  Though the word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, identifies one as a person who takes part in an activity for pure enjoyment, its original Latin root means ‘for the love of’.

There is no reason for an amateur production to be anything less than competent, let alone excellent, though this is usually not the case.  This is usually down to the fact that most, if not all, involved have little to no training.  And yet, when professionals meet with true amateurs, people who do something for the love, something beautiful and surprising can happen.

Case in point: Ankur Production’s recent play Love’s Time’s Beggar at the Tron.  This was a happy medium of the professional meeting the amateur, and though it may not have been the greatest production of the year, it certainly had some rather solid theatrical moments.

The play was set in an afterlife holding area.  A group of recently deceased people were told that they could only keep one memory from their lives.  The majority of the play then showed each person reliving their memory before ‘moving on’.

Yes, the cast were mostly young and inexperienced, and yes the plot centred on a concept that is more apt for an after-dinner discussion than a piece of drama, but the production had something that most recent professional work lack: a sense of honest earnestness.

I didn’t care that some of the cast were obviously struggling for lines and that the play was done with limited resources.  Instead, I found myself impressed with the energy that the young company had.  They were well disciplined, which is something more than I can say for many professional things I’ve seen recently.

Director Cora Bissett, a multi-talented practitioner, probably had a large role in the shaping of the piece.  Her experience as both an actor and director was key to the success of the production, finding clever ways of staging clichéd ideas and finding ways of making performance weaknesses and inexperience into strengths.

The programme announced that this was the final project of its kind that Ankur will be involved with.  This is a shame because, if anything, what the amateur world needs more than anything isn’t more money or exposure but instead the opportunity to liaise with professionals.  I sincerely hope that other partnerships like this will continue within the amateur circles, more to prove that ‘lovers’ of theatre have as much to offer as many so-called ‘professionals’.

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2 Responses

  1. Hello, I just noticed the use of the word amateur 8 times in the above piece.
    I would just like to add that the majority of the 9 cast have worked in a professional productions either in theatre, tv or radio and have between 5-10 years of varied acting experience behind them. This piece was a semi-professional production with a professional crew and was devised by both the cast and the director.

    • Hello, and thank you for your comment. I’ve re-read my review and I stand by every word. The word ‘amateur’ is usually seen in a negative context, which I think is a shame and is why I spent time trying to reclaim it. There is nothing wrong with being ‘amateur’, and certainly being ‘professional’ is not a guarantee of quality. In fact, I have seen many excellent productions done on the amateur level, and the vast majority of bad theatre I’ve sat through was created by professionals-ie people who make a living from their art. You are correct that the people behind the production has experience, some of it vast and through the years, but not many of them make a living from it, which is what makes a ‘professional’. But really, who cares? That’s all just arguing syntax. All that should matter is whether or not the production is good. And as I believe I clearly stated in this review, Love’s Time’s Beggar was good theatre.

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