The Stage Management Dream Team
During our final week in London we began to run sections of the show. We spilt the play into thirds and slowly pieced it back together. When the show is running, sections of the play can creep up on you quite quickly, so it's great for the actors to begin to see the whole journey of the play from start to finish. I'm happy to report it's coming to together brilliantly!
As with all shows, the Stage Management team is at the heart of the process and our's is second to none.
This House is a very prop heavy show. There are mountains of pieces of paper that are either in folders, briefcases, dispatch boxes or handed around between the actors during the show.
Each bit of paper has a purpose in the show so they need to have accurate and period appropriate parliamentary information on them, such as a maiden speech or cabinet minutes. Genna and Lou, our fantastic ASMs, work tirelessly to make sure the information on the paper is accurate, not only to the period of the play but also to the character.
In addition to this, there are telephones, desks, swivel chairs, pot plants, glasses, wheelchairs, oxygen masks, teacups, a fully working bar, the parliamentary mace - the list goes on and on.
Before each rehearsal or run-through, the ASMs make sure all the props are in the correct place. Either for a run-through, which means all the props in the correct place for the run, or if we're picking up halfway through, setting the props to the appropriate place for that section. This is the engine room of the show. It's imperative that all props are in the right places so the show runs smoothly. There are almost 200 hundred props to check and set!
Laura, our DSM (Deputy Stage Manager), collates all the information we need to efficiently run the rehearsals and the show itself once we are up and running and Cal, our Company Stage Manager, overseas the rehearsals and we work together to schedule each day and make sure we know where everyone is at any given point during the play.
Without the team we'd be nothing!
Towards the end of the week we had our final visitor into the rehearsal room. Baroness Ann Taylor popped in to say hello and talk to the company. Ann has been a huge champion of the play and helped James Graham with some of his initial research when he was developing the play. Ann entered parliament in the seventies and features heavily in the play. She was one of the first female whips in British history and later became the first female Chief Whip in Tony Blair's administration. Hearing firsthand stories about parliament and getting her inside knowledge of elements of the play was fascinating.
Next week we move down to Chichester for our final week of rehearsal. We all can't wait to get there and settle into the theatre.