Today is the day that whole team will meet each other, all together, in the same room, with biscuits, which is always a really exciting moment. Before everyone arrived we put up lots of images of landscapes, architecture, and design inspiration around the rehearsal room walls, to help us collectively start building the world of the play. We also had a model box showing, led by Amy, our director, because our designer, Max, was busy in a tech. We then all sat around a big table and read the play aloud for the first time.
Something we learnt: The play currently reads at 58 minutes.
Where to start? Unsurprisingly, we started at the beginning. Today we went back to scene one and began working through the play, re-reading the scenes and discussing our initial reactions to the text. We made lists of facts and questions to begin to understand the fundamentals of this play and it’s world. As with any new piece of writing, everything is unfamiliar to us, we have to educate ourselves with the basics before we can start to dig deeper.
Something we learnt: We are collectively quite rubbish at the version of keepyuppy in which every 5th hit has to be a body part instead of using your hand. But, we will not be defeated.
To improve our understanding of the legal system we were paid a visit from a human rights lawyer and also a solicitor. We asked them many questions about their roles in the legal system, their reasons for wanting to work in law and the different types of relationships they have with their clients. It was so interesting to hear them both talk passionately about their work, and for them to generously explain their first hand experiences of day to day life in that environment, and the emotional consequences of that. It was particularly useful for Amanda Wright who plays Gudrun, our lawyer. We continued working through the play, talking, questioning and debating as a group. In just three days, Amy has created a space where everyone feels encouraged to ask questions, share useful stories and to not worry if something feels confusing at this point, that’s what rehearsals are for! Amy has also been asking our brilliant actors, Amanda, Scarlett and Shvorne, to use a physical exercise to explore the scenes. On days that we do lots of talking, this is a useful tool to avoid over thinking and to experience the text in a different way.
Something we learnt: The peak of Iceland's Midnight Sun is around the summer solstice, normally on 21st June.
Something I definitely should mention is that we’ve been doing a huge amount of research around the play. Every morning we gather with a cup of tea and share the previous nights research task. It’s like history club, everyone is so eager to share their homework and to educate each other with what they’ve discovered. We’ve also been really lucky to have our wonderful writer Penny in the room for some of this week. Penny is an invaluable fountain of knowledge, and has helped us answer many of our questions about the world of the play and it’s characters. It’s not always possible to have the playwright in the room, but having her perspective on things has allowed us to delve deep into the text, even at these early stages of rehearsal.
Something we learnt: In England and Wales jury trials are used for criminal cases, requiring 12 jurors (between the ages of 18 and 75), although the trial may continue with as few as 9.
So, what's the play about? That can sometimes be quite a difficult question to answer, so we gathered around some massive sheets of paper and wrote down any themes, no matter how big or small, that we felt were represented in the play. This exercise opened up some really useful conversations about the emotional heart of the piece and the structures that are surrounding it. We’ve also been creating a timeline, documenting any action that takes place before and during the play which, using some impressive detective work, we have pieced together as a group. It’s so important that we have an accurate timeline to give us the immediate circumstances for the characters as they enter into each scene.
Something we learnt: We can now get to 48 in keepyuppy, which is an improvement from our initial score of 9.