One of RAFTA’s methods to improve theatre in the RAF is to run what we call a ‘Project’. There are 3 key ways, conceptually, in which Projects act to improve theatre in the RAF.
First, Project productions should provide the opportunity for RAFTA members to experience the challenge of putting on a production in a theatre space that is new/different to them, ideally providing them the chance to work with theatrical professionals. These 3 scenarios describe suitable venue arrangements for a RAFTA Project:
- A RAFTA Project could be put on in a professional ‘receiving’ theatre (eg a theatre that receives visiting professional and amateur companies; this could range from a pub theatre to a grand provincial venue). It is likely that such a receiving house would need to be booked for a week; prospective Directors/Producers might wish to consider venues that have a charitable remit to support community theatre.
- A RAFTA Project could be performed in ‘peripatetic’ fashion in a number of different venues. These could include RAFTA club venues but must include at least one professional venue (eg at least one pub theatre/receiving theatre).
- A RAFTA Project could be put on in a novel/unique theatre space (eg industrial complex, church, barn, hangar). The key challenge here would be setting up the space to transform it from its regular use into a performance space.
The rationale behind seeking a professional or unique venue is to give RAFTA members an experience akin to a professional touring theatre company; the Project Company must plan to get into a strange venue (or venues), build their set and technical solution, put on a run of a show and get out again. During the Project run, the Company acts to all intents and purposes as a professional company.
Second, Project productions should represent a challenge to RAFTA, the idea being that growth (and hence improvement) can only be achieved by challenging and stretching RAFTA’s members.
There is no hard and fast definition of what is meant by challenge. A Project could provide challenge by developing new talent; or it could be a showcase for experienced actors (the challenge of excellence); or it could introduce new skills (eg puppetry, stage-fighting); or there could be the challenge of having to rig a factory/hangar/church as a theatre; or the challenge could be felt in the use of particularly difficult/engaging/emotionally involved texts, or by staging a production with specific technical difficulties. Whilst these criteria could overlap or be combined, the intent is that ‘challenge’ is open to interpretation and should not be a list of A and B and C etc. The key thing is that the Project Director/Producer understands (and can communicate) how the artistic vision for their Project would challenge members of the Association.
Third, Project productions bring together RAFTA members from across the Association, providing members with a unique opportunity to work with people from outside their own theatre clubs. This is a great vehicle for improving theatre, as members get to share their theatrical skills and ideas with people they might otherwise not work with and thereby all benefit from the sharing. One can also meet friends for life! Whilst there is no reason why a Project could not be a two-hander play, the concept of bringing together many RAFTA members to share in a Project experience (and therefore share their skills) means that Projects tend to be selected that need reasonably large casts and/or crews.
The RAFTA Committee welcomes ideas and proposals from its members, at any time, for Projects that they would like to see happen. These may be small ‘mini-Projects’ that might need just a little help (and/or money) from RAFTA to get off the ground; in which case, there could be a quick ‘flash-to-bang’ to get some of these moving. Else, an idea/proposal could be for a larger affair; in which case, the RAFTA Committee would hold on to the idea for consideration when the conditions (considering finance and other events/demands on the Association) were right for RAFTA to run a bigger Project (you can see examples on the RAFTA website of previous Projects). When the Committee feels the conditions are right to run a large Project, we will pull out the ‘holding ideas’ and also prompt the Membership to submit any other ideas/proposals they may have for Projects. We will then survey the Membership to determine the likely support for the various Project ideas (eg would you act in X, be in the production crew for X, watch X?) before creating a shortlist and working with potential directors to set RAFTA’s next exciting Project in motion. Watch this space!