This House UK Tour

23rd Feb 2018 - 2nd Jun 2018

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The Nether Rehearsal Diary- Week 3

By Debbie Hannan

Week 3 - hardware/software

There’s a whole host of well-worn analogies for the rehearsal process - painting in various thickness of strokes, weaving a tapestry, conducting a composition - but I’m going to use a Nether-themed image and go with hardware and software. The hardware is the script, the actors, the furniture - all the concrete elements that we’re working with. The software is the intangible results -  the ideas, the relationships, the atmospheres, the meanings. Week 3 has been adjusting our hardware so that that our software works - and we are definitely half way between the page and The Nether. 

There is a “week 3” no matter what length of rehearsal you have - that middle point, where the giddy possibility and potential of everything has hardened into decisions and concrete moments, but nothing has been realised to its fullest and most satisfying capacity quite yet. The scenes are very much up on their feet. Each run adds greater details, drawing out the complications, the echoes and the depth of ideas in the script. Jeremy watches each run, taking notes on his script as a thought occurs, and then finds the most useful, clear way to collaborate with the cast on what the how that note could tweak the scene. Using a mixture of objectives, actions and detailed physical gesture, the full extent of the characters’ psychologies are realised moment by moment. We start to run certain scenes together, arranging and re-arranging the chronologies to develop the story arcs more precisely. 

Jeremy advises, in conceiving of the design, to ‘start with the most complicated tech idea and work back.’ We start to think about the real life hardware that will end up on stage - cameras, projections, the future version of a computer. These elements now have to combine with the characters we’ve been creating. How would these characters choose to use such psychology? What does that mean? What software are we programming, exactly, and what is our responsibility when we make certain choices over others, theatrically and otherwise?

At the end of the week, the actors are now leaving their scripts to the side, as the scenes sink in to muscle memory. Ivanno Jeremiah has “in-world script” scrawled over his copy of the play - a piece of hardware which in week 4, is about to become obsolete.