There are plenty of ways to get involved with the Thespians, both on and off the stage, and we are always happy to see new faces. No previous experience is needed – just lots of enthusiasm!
Listed below are some of the ways that you can get involved, along with contact details so that you can find out more. If you have a particular skill or expertise that you don’t see listed here but that you think might be useful, we’d love to hear from you too – contact us.
The Huddersfield Thespians brings people together from the community to work together creatively. The society receives no grants and is entirely reliant on membership subscriptions and donations. If you want to get involved, we ask that you become a member. For more detail, please go to the ‘support us’ page.
We perform in a professional theatre so your commitment is invaluable to us.
Anyone can audition for an acting role in our productions, though you will need to become a member if you are successful and land a part. In addition, we would encourage you to take on a supportive role elsewhere in the society (props, PA, publicity etc) to give you a wider understanding of how the whole society works, and to help with the running of each production.
We usually produce four plays per season (October to June) and perform at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield (www.thelbt.org.uk) and at Longwood Mechanics Hall. Audition dates are advertised on the website and in the newsletter. You don’t need to have previous experience but you do need to be able commit to at least five weeks of rehearsals and to five performances (our plays run from Wednesday to Saturday, including a Saturday matinee.)
“I’ve been involved with the Thespians since the 60s playing roles as diverse as Shirley Valentine, Esme Allen in David Hare’s Amy’s View, and Meg Boles in Pinter’s The Birthday Party. It’s a lot of fun getting to know everyone in the cast, but it’s quite a big commitment too: you’ve got to make sure you can get to all the rehearsals and to all the performances. It’s a great feeling when you’re all working together to get the play on, and a sense of a job well done when we all take our bows at the end.”
“I had never acted before joining the Thespians. I started off with a small part in The Heiress which helped to build up my confidence. The director worked closely with me, so by the time the play started, I felt prepared. It’s a great way to meet people, and I’m now involved in most of our productions, either acting, backstage, or as part of the casting committee.”
Want to know more about acting? Contact us
The director is the person who oversees and orchestrates the production, putting the actors through their paces and collaborating with the stage manager, the set builders, the wardrobe and the lighting staff to create their vision of the play. They are responsible for the quality of the production.
“I’ve directed a number of plays, including three for the Thespians, The Graduate by Terry Johnson, The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett, and Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward. In addition to this I have been in lots of other plays either as an actor or in backstage roles. I’ve also been a production assistant, working closely with the director – you learn a lot from seeing how other directors work. The job is partly about having an idea for how you want the play to look and feel – what the set will look like, what the actors will wear, etc. – but it’s also about organisation; devising a timetable for rehearsals, telling the actors when to move and where to stand, advising them on how to portray the character they’re playing, for example. It’s like being the manager of a football club and is a big responsibility as you have to make sure that everyone is ready by the start of the run, and there are no second takes in the theatre! However, like any football manager – you have to work as a team to succeed!”
Want to know more about directing? Contact us
This role involves working closely with the director, helping them in a variety of jobs.
“Being a production assistant is a great way to be really involved in a production right from the start. You are basically the director’s right-hand person and need to be flexible enough to turn your hand to whatever is needed. When I worked with Alistair on The Lady in the Van, for example, I attended every rehearsal, helping with direction when needed, liaised with stage staff, helped with such things as set, props and costume and worked backstage during production week. it’s a busy but rewarding role.”
Want to know more about being a production assistant? Contact us
“We make and build all of our own sets. This includes different techniques such as simple joinery, painting and stencilling. We have a large store of furniture and props but sometimes need to source one-off pieces – most
recently a Bedford van! Most of the jobs are pretty straightforward, so you don’t need any special skills and there is always someone on hand to help.
“The process usually starts by meeting with the director of the play to find out what their requirements are – sometimes there has to be compromise! The design for each production is transferred to a plan of the stage. The set is primarily built from large pieces of scenery called ‘flats’, they are made from timber and canvas which we then paint according to the director’s requirements and fit together once we get to the theatre. If it all works, we have the satisfaction of knowing that all the planning and care has been worthwhile.”
Want to know more about building sets? Contact us
We have a huge wardrobe at our workshop, including many vintage pieces, hundreds of pairs of shoes and boxes full of accessories . Our wardrobe mistress, Maureen, sources and creates costumes for any period that a director throws at her! If you’d like to help, please contact us
We produce printed publicity material for every show we do. If you’re interested in design and would like to get involved in producing this material, we’d love to hear from you. Perhaps you are studying design at school or college and are looking for a project?
We also need people to distribute fliers and posters around the town, and programmes for our shows front-of-house.
Want to know more? Contact us
We hope you like our website and social media. If you’ve got expertise in this area – on the technical or the content side – and would like to get involved, please get in touch. Contact us
Publicising our shows in the press helps us to increase our audiences. If you’d like to get involved in this area, contact us
Lighting and sound technicians work with the director to make sure that the stage is lit in the right way at the right time and those important sound effects are in place. We can provide training in all aspects of lighting and sound. If you’d like to get involved in this area, contact us
Once the show is in the theatre, the stage manager is in charge of everything! They work closely with the director on the lighting and sound requirements and during the performance cue in the lighting, sound, and effects operators to make sure they are executed on time. They are in charge of the production at the theatre, making sure that the actors are present and that they ready in the wings when they should be.
Want to know more about stage managing? Contact us
The prompt sits offstage and reads the script as the actors perform it. If they forget a line, the prompt calls it out and helps the actors to remember where they are. It is a skilful job: you need to be involved in the rehearsal process so that you know the difference between a planned, dramatic pause and when the actors have dried up!
Want to know more about prompting? Contact us
The props person works with the director and stage manager to source personal props for the actors and general props for the play. They also make sure that the actors know where their props are backstage during the run of the production. We have an Aladdin’s Cave of props at our workshop.
Want to know more about props? Contact us