The first week of any rehearsal period is always a bit of a whirlwind. We started the week with a ‘meet and greet’ where the cast, creative team and the Headlong team all sit down with a coffee and a biscuit to begin the process of getting to know the people they are going to be spending the next couple of months with. Natalie (Director) and Tom (Designer) talked through the world of the play and how they arrived at this particular interpretation of the piece. As our production takes elements from 1960’s Hollywood, Natalie talked us through some documentary footage from the making of Cleopatra (with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) to begin to give the company ideas about the kind of people that inhabited those huge studio back lots.
Director Natalie Abrahami with the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo: Keith Pattison
First days also include a read through of the piece, which is a chance for the company to hear the play out loud for the first time without the pressure of performance. As the week progressed, we began to thoroughly examine the play, going through and paraphrasing Shakespeare’s words in contemporary language to check that we had a shared understanding of the text and to begin to rough out some basic facts about the piece (times of day, location etc). The week also included a text session with Rob Icke (Headlong’s Literary Associate) who worked on some small speeches from the play to help us use the structure and rhythm of Shakespeare’s text to speak the words clearly and freely.
Alongside all this the Stage Management team are beginning to find props and furniture, costumes are being chosen, songs are being composed and scenery is being built. It’s been a busy week and it’s only going to get busier!