The Stage2 Blog

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Directors’ Blog – Polishing

The First Week of Polishing

The first week of polishing is complete and I couldn’t be more comfortable with how much Love and Information has already improved. With the notes from the previous run in my mind I had a good idea what I need to improve and approached polishing with a fair amount of excitement and a dash of nervousness. Polishing is known for being the most relaxed and stress-free part of the rehearsal process. It’s the time when you can make your ideas become whole and come to life. Blocking is the basic moves that will enable your piece to run but it will be far from the finished product. Where as when it comes to polishing it can be seen as taking a piece of wood and smoothing out the edges. Which is why it’s exciting!

The actual process is dependant on the actors learning their lines and knowing all their notes (instructions and feedback from the director), which have been accumulated through the blocking process and the runs that we’ve now done. In polishing, the director wants to be adding to the basic structure which they have created to make it an all round better show that flows and looks good!

I came into this week with fresh eyes. I knew exactly how I would carry out the polishing process. From having had a run, it meant that I was able to see what scenes needed more time, I’m not ashamed to say that one scene in particular didn’t work, so now through polishing I am making adjustments – it’s all part of the process and the role of being a director.

So how did the first week of polishing actually go? It honestly went quite well! In the first half of the session we completed a good chunk of polishing. Then in the second half I decided to do some team building exercises and character work, as there had been a consistent note from both of the runs for the cast to have more energy and react to each other’s characters. The cast and I worked well and I feel that I am in a good position to finish the polishing through the next couple of weeks.

Once the polishing is finished it’s into the swing of production week once we’ve had our final run, which from a directors viewpoint is daunting as well as an opportunity to find out whether all the hard work that has been put in has paid off.

Georgie Nott

For your chance to see Georgie at work as part of the Young Directors’ Festival visit the MAC Birmingham for final tickets!

Stage2’s Directors Blog – Second Run


My name’s Carmen and this term I’m directing The Gilt Frame, a short story from Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestly, which I have adapted to work as a 10 minute play!

Recently, we had the 2nd run of all the evening performances, which gave me, as the director an opportunity to see what had, hopefully improved from the last run and to see what steps I would next need to take with my actors in terms of polishing to help the process move forward.

Personally, the 2nd run was vital for my cast as it was effectively our first run with a full cast, and I was really looking forward to seeing the play as a whole. Another thing I was looking forward to watching was the other pieces. I had seen them the week prior, and was excited to see the pieces developed further. As I had expected, they were of high standard, and gave me a taster of what the audience’s experience would be like. It also showcased the variety of pieces; from in your face comedy to subtle, to thought provoking pieces about mental health, the night provides entertainment for everyone.

Overall, I was pleased with how my cast had performed. What struck me the most was how, for some, it was their first time performing in front of an audience, at least with Stage2. Yet, their high level of discipline and acting said otherwise. The areas that showed room for improvement, mainly were the technicalities of the piece, for example entrances and exits, all errors I was confident could be erased in polishing, the next step in the rehearsal process. However, I was impressed with the performances of the more ‘emotional’ scenes in the play. I thought that my actors showed understanding and undoubtedly, raw talent in these.

The 2nd run was incredibly useful for me, to gauge exactly where the play, and the actors are, in terms of the rehearsal process. It helped me plan the structure of my future rehearsals and see what I can do in upcoming sessions, to help and push my cast further.

Carmen Hutchins

Carmen is the youngest of the six directors as part of the YDF and has been in Stage2 for many years. To support her and the other directors, why not book for the YDF by phoning Stage2 at 07961 018841.

Stage2’s Advisory Board

Stage2’s Advisory Board

Stage2 Advisory Boards
You speak, we listen.

Stage2 is more than a youth theatre; it’s a company, a charity, a community, even a family! With over 70 young people from across the West Midlands, Stage2 Tutors have quite the job keeping up with individual journeys and nurturing independent developments of each and every young person.

In the Spring Term of this year, Alex instigated a “Kids’ Advisory Board” which presented members the opportunity to raise their thoughts and opinions about Stage2, their experiences when they’re here and of course offer suggestions on how to improve.

The first Advisory Board was a huge success with over 30 members attending – nearly all of them reporting that they felt as if a “weight had been lifted” having been given the opportunity to raise complaints (previously felt unaddressed) in an anonymous and safe way. I feel that this was a major milestone in moving Stage2 forward, by actively listening to our members we are able to make changes (within reason) to enable this company to become “more than a youth theatre”.

To remain transparent, we ensure that we communicate these changes to our members – and what better way to disseminate this info than through our brand spanking new blog! The original feedback document is 8 pages long so we won’t bore you with all the science; just the bits that Stage2 Staff are actively pursuing!

In General (since the first Advisory Board), of the 16 members who took part:

  • ALL reported that they were less stressed, less pressured and more relaxed at Stage2
  • ALL reported that they enjoyed the Project Options and their versatility
    • However, 4 members of the group said that they wanted Shows to return because they felt there was less to be excited about.
  • Parents were very positive about the changes since the first Parents Forum (Oct 2017)
  • The majority of members felt happy with the way that Alex is leading Stage2.
    • However, many members of the group raised thoughts on how Alex could improve their experience (such as producing more shows & doing more to correct bad behaviour).

From the latter point, Alex has implemented behaviour management strategies at Stage2 to tackle more difficult presenting behaviours.
In regards to doing more Shows – Alex says he would love to, and will continue to seek out new and exciting performance ventures!

  • Parents stated that they were relieved that there were not so many full-scale productions any more – they had seen a noticeable decrease in the pressure & stress experienced at home.
  • Parents reported that they felt Stage2 was too strict on lateness when arriving and that often times lateness was caused by traffic or a fault on the parents side.

Alex reassured parents at the time that he agreed and that he would alter the Stage2 system of managing time-keeping, this was actioned the following week (20th October 2018).

  • Around 4 members reported that they felt that many Stage2 Activities were still too Kings Heath “centric”.

Stage2 Staff are currently looking for more central locations for future events.

  • Members reported that they were happy with George Bandy as the new General Drama Leader.
    • However, members also felt that Stage2 had a noticeable lack of permanent staff – i.e. Staff not being consistent.

Alex will instigate “interview” activities amongst Staff and Members to try and bridge this gap.

This is just a small sampling of points from a much wider document. I think one of the most important aspects of the Advisory Board is the trust that is placed in Stage2’s hands when navigating the feedback. Some points that are raised won’t be able to be actioned (my favourite is “that Stage2 should buy a Mini-Van” when most people know that Stage2 Staff don’t/can’t drive!!), some points that are raised will be actioned outside the view of Stage2 members and many will make noticeable, tangible differences in the way that we operate.

To everyone who attended this meeting and anyone who has in the past, thank you for making this company a stronger, safer place to be!

Best wishes,


Director’s Blog – First Run


My name is Robert and I’m directing an extract from A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Young Directors’ Festival. On Saturday 27th November, we had our first “run” of the evening’s performances. This means performing each piece in sequence whilst I make notes!

The first runs of our performances for the Young Directors’ Festival was a great chance to finally see each others work. I must admit I was unsure of how my own cast was going to be able to handle this, though I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised!

I found watching the other performances to be a most enjoyable experience with pieces ranging from the comical to the tragical, giving some great variety. I found that my own group, for what weaknesses were presented performed very well and I was very proud of them, I can see what is already good and that which needs to be made great. I have high hopes that come our next run I will see a performance that is on an even higher level.

This run has been, from a directing standpoint, a great chance to see how the piece plays to an audience, which gives a fresh look upon my work and will enable me to work on parts which I felt worked far better than they did in actuality. In short, this sobering look at my piece from an audience eye will mean that I can, as a director, continue to work on and improve my piece for both the actors and audience.

RobertRobert Fretwell
Alongside the YDF, Robert is Stage2’s current Mentor Manager. Having been in the company for several years Robert now assists Stage2 Staff in the office during the week. He has been Cast and Chorus in a litany of shows as well fulfilling Technical and Assistant Roles.

See how far Robert has come by reading his previous post on Working with Cast by clicking here.

For a full line up of the performances of the YDF visit this cheeky round up blog post here.

For Tickets and Venue information just click here!


An Update from Alex

So, Saturday 29th September was my first official Saturday operating solo.

What a milestone!

There was a mix of emotions and feelings prior to that 8am start, shadowed, oddly, by an overriding sense of calm – the same feeling I get before I’m about to perform.

It struck me at the Intro (the week before) just how much authority you have when you’re leading a large group, and to sit there at the front of the room, looking out across the many young people in front of me, it dawned rather rapidly; wow, every single one of these young people are trusting their experience of Stage2 into my hands. It was unnerving.

But the following Saturday felt different. I felt, as I’ve said, calm. Completely in control of what was happening, when it happened and how it happened. It’s strange because you never really get to a point where you can say “yes, I’m ready”, with any solid amount of confidence, for something like this until you’re actually doing it.

And I did it. I actually did it. And it felt great.

A few weeks have passed since then and it’s certainly gotten easier over time. I am so grateful to have the competent staff that I do have on a Saturday (George & Maya) and they have both served to be valuable assets.

Two weeks ago saw a return of the Kids’ Advisory Board (combined with a Parents’ Advisory Board running alongside it) and I was over-joyed with the positive feedback received by Parents and their children in the way that Stage2 is operating currently. I will be posting the findings of this session in the coming weeks, in order to remain transparent about the needs and wants of Stage2 Members.

I hope you are enjoying these Blog Posts – please help us out by giving them a share and pushing the YDF Festival. These kids deserve good audiences!

As ever, my bestest wishes,

Alex Butler

The Young Directors’ Festival Line Up

The Young Directors’ Festival Line Up

YDF Banner

The Young Directors’ Festival is well on it’s way to being a fantastic line-up of brilliant performances. Here’s a brief summary of each extract so you know what you can expect:


The Hound of the Baskervilles
By Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, Adapted by John O’Connor

Directed by Byron Creavin-Jerwood, this simplistic extract from a wider text is a spine-chilling insight into the inner-workings of the revered Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. John Watson.


By Kate Goodall, Adapted & Directed in collaboration with Daisy Wilkes

An original piece of writing by Kate Goodall, centred around the struggles faced by an individual after the death of a close friend. Uplifting and thought-provoking, this piece is beautifully staged in a traditional Stage2 style, guaranteed to make you think as much as it makes you feel.


By John Godber

Directed by Olivia Grant-Bryson, Shakers by John Godber was originally produced as a four-hander, and our director has stuck to this process. Focused on the trials and tribulations of four waitresses in a classy Cocktail bar, we see the wide variety of low-lifes, party-goers and chinless yuppies who grace their workplace.


Love & Information
By Carol Churchill

This complicated selection of scenes from a wider play centres around the processing and dissemination of information – from keeping & telling secrets to constructing a “memory house”. This piece of post-modernist theatre is presented in a reflective stylised process by director Georgie Nott.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare

A true classic from one of the Bard’s most famous plays. In this extract we see the hapless mechanicals traverse a barren stage as we see their rusty rendition of “Pyramus & Thisbe”. Directed by Robert Fretwell, Stage2’s Mentor Manager, this is funny, light and a little bit barking.


The Gilt Frame
Adapted from the original text by Chris Priestly

Adapted and Directed by Carmen Hutchins from Chris Priestly’s Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror. This extract, set in Victorian England, centres around the spoilt Christina as she uncovers a sinister world resting just behind the frame.


To buy tickets visit the MAC Website by clicking here, or buy tickets from Stage2 Staff on a Saturday (Marketplaces at 9.30 – 9.45am & 1.30 – 1.45pm)