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“It is said that despite its many glaring (and occasionally fatal) inaccuracies, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself has outsold the Encyclopedia Galactica because it is slightly cheaper, and because it has the words DON’T PANIC in large, friendly letters on the cover.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Believing we had struck gold with calling our theatre company Don’t Panic Theatre, an homage to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we thought that we were all set and attempted to reword some of Tim Firth’s inspirational production notes from Our House. He writes:

People are primarily interested in other people. The audience watch the cast far more than they watch the set. 

Profound. All these shows that a spectator might go to see, and yes they may initially be taken in by the scenery, but it is the acting on stage that keeps an audience interested.

Firth also says:

Two things the audience rose to at the end of each show came absolutely for free; ingenuity and energy. Get these and you are ninety percent of the way [there].

I feel that this sums up the core of what I want to achieve from this module. Challenging myself with developing a character in order to produce someone unlike my everyday self. I adore performing on stage in front of an audience, and when a spectator I love to be captivated by a performance.

Much to our displeasure, Don’t Panic Theatre had already been taken, so it was back to the drawing board. Any ideas we came up with had to be double and triple checked, as I did not want to use a title that was already in use by someone else… It hit me quite quickly. I asked myself what is theatre, or at least, what do I want from our production; regardless of genre, I want the audience to believe in the character, so they needed to see realism, yet theatre is not real, however much it strives to be. It is almost real. So I searched and scoured the ‘net only to find one valid website, hosted in Berlin, using the term ‘almost real’. It was perfect, but most importantly it was available… Almost Real Theatre.

Within a couple of hours I had finalised our theatre company’s mission statement:

Almost Real Theatre aspires to deliver engaging performances through carefully chosen characters created by contemporary playwrights; captivating audiences with innovative and energetic productions.

In their company motivated by integrity, ingenuity and sometimes tickling, Almost Real reach out with a genuine sense of people, place, perception, practicality, purpose and passion for imaginative art.

We are rather determined to keep this theatre company going post-university. I had hoped that whomever I ended up working with on this module we would become close, but until it was decided that it would just be my best mate and myself, I did not know how that would play out! It is still early days, but the plan is to continue working with the scripts that are not used this time around so that we have some material to perform whenever and wherever, no matter what else we end up doing beyond our degrees. This is not to say that we will stick to working with text, but it is our starting point and our mission statement can always adapt for future purposes. TM

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