“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.
20th century philosopher Michael Foucault (whose ideas Emma uses to oppose the Doctor with during the play) rejects the notion that people have a ‘true’ or ‘fixed’ identity. He asserts that our identity is communicated to others through interaction. Asking what it means to play a character from the perspective of the protagonist became a further Meta layer of the play. Is it even possible? Jeremy concluded that actors must play the truth of their character no matter.
Whilst I try to self teach Foucault in one corner of the rehearsal room to add to our research wall, movement director Polly Bennett is leading a euphoric session that has the cast dancing like no one is watching.
As well as beginning to stage the play this week we have also begun tackling the scene changes with Polly’s assistance. Both playwright and director are keen that they become part of Emma’s subjective experience of rehabilitation; not the slick ‘objective truth’ changes of time and place.
Rehearsals were punctuated this week with a visit from Dr Brener of The Priory and a visit to Freedom Recovery: an inspirational rehabilitation centre in Catford. The former was an insight into rehab from the perspective of the staff, teaching us about the medical side of addiction (Brener at one point drew a diagram of the brain and explained the emotional Limbic centre..!). The latter was a life-affirming meeting of the residents of Freedom, whose generosity and courage was infectious. As we left, one actor whispered, “I thought when I took this job I would become a better actor; I now think I will become a better human”.