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’.
Filed under: Glasgow-based theatre productions |