Monday, 22 October 2007

Fantasy Theatre Repertory Company

I have noticed there are a few variations on Fantasy Football League in the newspapers and elsewhere, where you set yourself up as a manager, choose players and put together your own team - you can even do a Fantasy Shares variation on this somewhere - is it the FT? Never mind. It doesn't matter.

I can see the beauty of football - at its best it's like a kind of devised ballet, as well as being satisfying combative, without anyone actually getting hurt. But I do worry about the men who wear replica football shirts emblazoned with the name and number of a Premiership player or a member of the England squad, as if this is the standard they measure themselves against. I'll see a forty-something 'Rooney' or an 'Owen' or a 'Beckham' on the tube with his son, the overpriced shirt seemingly an admission that this is the closest he'll ever get to the glory he once dreamed of when he was the boy's age "sorry, son, I didn't make the grade" - it breaks my heart every time.

There is a statistic bandied about that more people go and see live theatre every year in Britain than go to watch a live football match, so it's surprising no-one has come up with a Fantasy Theatre Production variation on the Fantasy League team for a newspaper.

I don't quite know how it would work as there is not the competitive element in theatre that there is in football but presumably you could choose the performers of your choice and somehow go head to head with others playing the game. Would you have to choose which production you were going to put on? A Cherry Orchard would make different demands on the performers than Hairspray the Musical. Perhaps it makes more sense to be in charge of a Fantasy Repertory Company. Much better! But how would points be awarded? Never mind, let's leave that for now.

The temptation would no doubt be to cram the fantasy company full of theatrical dames - Diana Rigg, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith etc - but presumably, as with strikers, you shouldn't have too many of them or you leave them without enough to do and they get restive.

No doubt there would be financial constraints. Would you scrimp on the sets and costumes if you thought you could get John Hurt and Richard Griffiths as well all the dames on your list and Penelope Wilton and Frances de la Tour? Would they do it if they thought it might look shoddy? I'd want Clive Rowe and Simon Russell Beale and Alex Jennings. And Simon Callow. And Rafe Spall. I really like Sally Hawkins. What about Shirley Bassey or do you have to stick to proper actors? Could you bring Clarke Peters over from America? Are you allowed French people? Would Michael Caine do it? Michael Caine and Ian McKellen in something - I'd write it...Or would Andrew Davies take a pay cut and write something for us just for the fun of it? A panto?

Marvellous! The first production would be a panto featuring the whole company and would take place on the streets of London. A sort of promenade production on the scale of the Artichoke productions (wasn't that elephant one of the best things you've ever seen?) the climax featuring Maggie Smith duetting with Clive Rowe on the top of the 159 bus going down Oxford Street, passing Michael Caine and Ian McKellen sharing a moment on the 137 bus going the other way, as Shirley Bassey dangles precariously from a helicopter above them while belting out a show tune, her face filmed and projected on to every London landmark simultaneously.

No, it's too complicated and doesn't even sound very good. I resign. I hate playing games anyway. I'm going to stick to writing.


Simon at the Theatre said...

I've been pondering a Fantasy Theatre idea for ages and like you have found it hard to formulate but I have not given up yet. It doesn't help that producers are so cagey about audience figures and financials. In the US it would be easy as they disclose this sort of info.

So I have bought but at the moment all it does is point to my "work" site of

I'll get there soon and then we can all have fun casting Max Beasley and Dame Edna Everage in The Vortex at the Windmill Theatre!

Helen Smith said...

Hello Simon

You must be very entrepreneurial. I only thought about it for an idle moment and gave up. There are so many variables - actors, production etc. I hadn't even thought about which theatre to do it in.

Hope you do get there. Max Beasley indeed!

Let me know if you ever get it set up.