A One-Woman Play, a One-Man Play.
One Smashing Show.
This Producer found himself with a couple of extraor-dinary stories, a pair of top-notch actors and an ace crew but without the means to produce a film with all the cast, staff, equipment and locations involved.
Unwilling to let this rich material slip away he created a one-man play - Dry Bones - and a one-woman musical – Billie - shot their performances in a black room and produced this package for anyone who might pave the way to present these very excellent shows on the stage or screen.
Billie runs for 40 minutes and like any fable it is a tricky number to describe without giving the game away. That already tells you a lot about it. Almost everything. Except, perhaps, for the fact that Billie is a performer on a luxury liner filming a video message for her daughter, Nicola. Her world is no bigger than the cramped cabin that she makes into her stage, a space that wraps itself around the world and around a couple of lives worlds apart.
What else? Billie is a born entertainer who cannot laugh at her own jokes. Rough and refined. One of a kind with more Billies than meet the eye. Obliging and enraged. She’s observed the corrupt side of the entertainment business and survived to tell this tale. But what more can we say without giving the game away?
Billie is a show about a show that isn’t a show. A fairy story that will keep the children awake all night. A celebration of make-believe and a liberation from fantasy. An enchanting little bombshell.
Whilst the production takes place in real time, all of the action takes place in what we could call ‘real space’ – the genuinely cramped conditions of a performer on board a luxury liner. This has its benefits in terms of production values, enabling the performance to take place in a cosy and intimate theatre, or within a boxed-in set in a larger venue. Both options contribute to creating the relevant atmosphere.
As Billie is a one-woman show making use of almost no props, the scope for staging this production ranges from a minimal approach to a fully-fledged and immersive recreation of the environment and the character’s circumstances.
The strong musical element likewise can range from the simple accompaniment presently provided by the songwriter to the full orchestration of a musical review.
Dry Bones runs for 60 minutes and recounts the story of a respectable gentleman who with the best of intentions falls in with a couple of lowlifes and is cast adrift a long ways from home.
The distinction that he had always made between the crimes that earn hard time and the high jinks that he has left far behind becomes a fine line.
The dynamic of this drama lies in its effortless forgetfulness of how little good folk and bad folk have in common and its startling reminder of just how much they do.
People with whom most of us would never break bread are invited to inhabit an intimate place in our imagination, to challenge our judgment and remind us of something important that we have always known.
Content aside, this show is presently a solo performance, with all the impact that this innovation brings. It does, however, present huge scope for the director’s conception and actor’s interpretation. Our video utilized minimal props and set, but the opportunity remains wide-open for a more elaborate production on a far grander scale.