Love Drama – Five Minute Theatre

Today at 5pm a 24 hour theatre extravaganza will begin to celebrate the National Theatre of Scotland’s fifth anniversary.

NTS called for ideas from all over the world and Love Drama was lucky enough to be chosen to take part.

Love Drama runs after school and holiday drama workshops currently in East Lothian and Midlothian. Five of our students were invited to become our Five Minute Theatre cast: Eilidh Babbs (7), Nancy Stewart (11). Laurie Easton (11), Adam Brown (12) and Denise Boyle (12).

We had a hall to work from for 8 hours altogether. The first 4 hours were spent building our small ensemble. Some students had never met each other before so we did a lot of team building and getting to know each other. We then embarked on mini skills workshops using props, costume, masks and spontanious improvisation.

By the end of the first 4 hour rehearsal the group had narrowed down their material to a family of bizarre characters which included a 27 year old son who thought his doll was a real baby and a mother who tried to feed carrots to her daughter’s toy rabbit when she was at school…

Our next four hours which we had the following week was the time we had to decide what we were doing with these characters, try out various ideas, choose one, devise our piece, get it to 5 minutes, polish it and perform infront of our live audience. With 2 hours to go until the audience arrived even myself in the role of calm and collected facilitator was getting nervous as we realised the enormity of the task!

Improvisation with one of the many props brought in by the cast.

After about an hour and a half of workshopping various ideas for our family the group decided that they wanted the family to be part of a psycological experiment aired on TV. So we made Denise Boyle the presenter of the show and kept the other four cast members in their family roles.

We devised the introduction, which the cameraman Lee kindly informed us lasted four minutes! The cast got together and started editing the material until it lasted only one minute. The clock was ticking and we had around an hour and a half until the audience arrived… The cast were very much on the ball – there was so much to take in and remember, and changes, cuts and new ideas were flying around at 100mph.

Nancy with her priceless scarf!

Half an hour until the audience arrived and we had finished! Only problem was it lasted eleven minutes!! We had to keep the story we had just invented but lose over 50% of it! Again the group worked hard – and fast to edit the material while ensuring it would still make sense to the audience! The audience had now arrived and were waiting patiently in the foyer as we had just got to 5 minutes exactly! We did one more run and let the audience in. It was self service for the audience to get their own chairs as the cast got themselves ready and had a minute or so to breathe before they had one shot of getting it right!

Our lovely audience of family and friends had collected their own seats (!) and the cast all realised that they HAD to go to the toilet before it started. As the audience waited eagerly I had to go backstage to see where the cast had disappeared to – and to my horror one had got locked in the toilet! We now had ten minutes left until the man in charge of the hall would come along and tell us we had to get out! After a few minutes of shouting back and forth through the toilet door our actor was set free and we could start our performance! No time for relaxation – just go!

Adam scares the rest of the group with his pet…

To remember something that has been constantly edited and chopped and changed and has to last 5 minutes is a massive challenge and the cast did it! I know and they know where ‘mistakes’ were made but nobody would be able to pick them out because the cast were able to use their group bond, charecterisation and improvisation techniques to keep it going.

The show ended, and of course we all realised we had not given the bows a second thought!! Oops. But the piece lasted 5 minutes and 8 seconds which was absolutely amazing – such a good job done – SO many skills used and a whole lot of fun had!

Thank you so much to a fantastic group of Love Drama actors!

Our piece will be aired on Wednesday June 22 2011 at approx 10.40am on

Good luck to all the other performers taking part in this exciting project especially those who are broadcasting live!

Kirsten McCrossan

Founder & Director

Love Drama