In AA meetings, we are urged to “look for the similarities not the differences”. Watching People, Places, Things, I didn’t need to look hard, the parallels between my own life and the story onstage were obvious.
People, Places & Things’ effortlessly stylish and modern set by Bunny Christie sits in the Wyndham’s 1899 theatre like an anachronistic giant in this Victorian wedding cake of a theatre.
Check out some behind-the-scenes shots of fashion photographer, Mariano Vivanco's, publicity shoot taken at the National Theatre Studio.
Explore Bunny Christie's design sketches for People, Places and Things
Blood (stage blood of course), sweat and tears characterized the final week’s work on People, Places and Things. Tech-ing a show of this ambition in a short space of time was always going to be a challenge. However, we were not prepared for just how much caffeine and patience it was going to take to get us through it.
‘The patient is alive’ declares Jeremy Herrin after the first run of the play on Saturday. After five weeks of staging 110 pages of drama – a process that includes absorbing cuts to the script, changes in costume, and the construction and interrogation of movement sequences - we put the show together on a grey morning in an empty rehearsal room and pray that it will work. What ensues is a heart breaking and engaging two hours twenty minutes of theatre. The operation was successful; this production is very much alive.
Confession: I am writing this entry mid week five, and because I am struggling to remember what we did, I look back over my exercise book. Here is what I find at the top of the page...
“This week is about orange chairs”.
- Director, Jeremy Herrin.
At the halfway point of our six-week rehearsal period it’s all about the practical. Gone are the days of long conversation, emotional exploration and vigorous research - it is time to stage the play and learn the lines.
“The more we talk about this play the more it feels like a central theme is objective truth”.
- Director, Jeremy Herrin.
It is becoming clear in rehearsal that the form of Duncan Macmillan’s play is dictated by the protagonist’s perspective and he challenges us to pursue this in our staging. We are shown the world of the play and its inhabitants from Emma’s point of view. If she is inebriated the world must appear distorted. If she has a blackout we skip forward in time. This week, the challenge of staging the text is proving a theatrical treat.
This play is going to be “emotionally expensive” predicted director Jeremy Herrin on Friday afternoon. After a week of intense discussion, tears and laughter, talking about addiction around a table in the National Theatre’s rehearsal space, that is certainly how many of us felt.