The Truth: Director foreword

When I got the confirmation that my pitch to direct The Truth for Peculiar Productions had been successful, my first thought was “I cannot wait!”. My second thought? “Oh Gods, what have I done!”

Thankfully, that second thought–although it crops up from time to time–has largely been quashed.

My experience so far with Peculiar Productions has run the gauntlet from exhilarating to exciting and every possible emotion in between. I’ve been involved in theatre for around 15 years now but this is the first big show I’ve solo-directed since school, and staging a Pratchett directly following on from Amy Davies’ Monstrous Productions left my team and I with some pretty big shoes to fill!

Blimey this is a big cast to fit in one room!

It’s a good thing my cast, crew and committee are more than up to the challenge. The Truth is a play with some unique challenges in pretty much every area. We’re currently finalising plans for a semi-functional printing press which has to manage an impressive feat at the climax of the second act (all to be revealed on opening night!). Add in some pretty creepy Uberwaldian type lighting and sound effects, a talking dog and an imp controlled Disorganiser Mk II and the crew have got some pretty fun stuff to work with!

The cast have the difficult task of bringing some very recognisable characters to life. As with any of Pratchett’s books, the world is built around those familiar faces we’ve come to know and love. So, as is only right and proper for an Ankh-Morpork tale, Commander Vimes (reprised by Jes Hynes) makes an appearance, accompanied as ever by Sergeant Angua, Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs. Lord Vetinari (reprised by Michael Dickinson-Smith) stalks his usual palace haunt, accompanied by the ever faithful Drumknott – although those of you who know this story well will know Michael has a bit of a different portrayal to deal with this time around!

The Canting Crew make their coughing, shambling appearance led by Gaspode the Wonderdog, Ankh-Morpork’s brightest canine… even the stalwart Mr Slant makes an appearance in this play!

“Mate, can you even call yourself a theatre company if you haven’t played Park Bench?”

However, alongside the usual suspects, The Truth offers some new faces for an audience in the form of the hero, William de Worde, inventor of the Discworld’s first newspaper. Aided by dwarves Gunilla Goodmountain and Boddony, abetted by the terribly respectable Sacharissa Cripslock and assisted by the iconographer with a flair for the dramatic, Otto von Chriek, William manages to accidentally bring chaos to Ankh-Morpork by… writing things down quite well, actually!

This brings him to the attention of the frankly terrifying New Firm, Mr Pin and Mr Tulip, who are Not Very Nice Men at all.

The day my cast nearly deafened me – here they are running a scene with headphones blasting white noise, an exercise to increase their volume.

Alongside the already mammoth task of portraying these characters onstage, I must admit to not giving them an easy ride at all – insisting on making them do some very silly things in the name of dramatic art. Between the endless mooing vocal warm ups, the definitely accidentally rude tongue twisters and the many, many improv. based warm-up games, I’m often surprised they haven’t left yet! It’s a new direction for some of the cast, even those who have trodden the boards previously, but they have flung themselves into the challenge with gusto and not held it against me. Yet!

So, with ten weeks to go until the show, despite the panic beginning to dog me and the endless sticky notes I keep finding, with scrawled incomprehensible reminders, I can honestly say that I do not regret a second of this process. My cast and crew are such creative, talented and hardworking bunch, and the support they give each other is incredible.

I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on, we have some real treats in store!!

See you in August!

Ellen


Ellen Warren is the director of the upcoming production of “The Truth” by Terry Pratchett, from August 22nd to 25th at The Gate Arts Centre, Cardiff.

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