Rehearsal Diary Week 4
Pulling it all together.
In any rehearsal process it is a challenge to manage the passing of time and orchestrate those points at which the many elements involved in creating a show are brought into focus. There has been an accelerated effort to do this in week four, as we prepare to leave the familiarity of the rehearsal room for the, as yet, unfamiliar Courtyard Theatre.Three weeks ago, video and sound material that seemed premature to create is created now; the plotting of props that didn’t need setting two weeks ago, are set now and adjustments to staging, that didn’t feel right to decide on last week, are decided on now.
Being a play about the contemporary experience of teenagers, there is a provocation to Ian (Video Designer), to find a way to represent the world of social media. In rehearsals we have discovered the central idea of these characters always being observed, agreeing to it and, in turn, constantly observing others. Ian’s design reflects this and the making of it involved taking the whole cast for a film shoot in Roundhay Park one cold Leeds evening this week. Rehearsing for theatre is different to rehearsing for film; we have more time to explore and develop scenes, to agree strict structures that are required to be repeated every night. The editing process in film allows for this to be less fixed when shooting with the actors, as things can be cut and pasted together in the editing room. Because our video footage will work in tandem with the action on stage, we had to make sure that we had rehearsed action and timings precisely before getting on set. Several flasks of tea later, it was ‘a wrap’ and Ian could begin the process of editing, ready for the technical rehearsals next week.
Whereas the work in previous weeks has involved focussing on one scene at a time, this week we started to put whole chunks of the play together. We ‘run’ these sections in order to get a feel for the overall experience. This can often be quite chaotic as props need to be set in the right places and ‘gaps’ may be discovered where we haven’t yet sorted how an actor gets from one scene into another but this is the only way to uncover these things. This part of the process also highlights where the focus of the audience needs to be in order to tell the story; in making this clearer, we discover some moments that need to be cut or revised - always hard when we all feel attached to particular points, but sacrifices are made in order to serve the whole story. It’s very rewarding when everyone recognises whether a moment does or doesn’t work. Four weeks in a room together means that this can be done with complicity and honesty.
Part of my job has involved following the script and, alongside the DSM, marking where an actor is paraphrasing a line. Often this might just be a one-off and other times it is a regular occurrence, but it becomes crucial this week to note them on these lines and make sure they are saying the exact words on the page. This encourages a stricter discipline with the text and consequently draws the actors’ attentions to rediscover the thoughts, which is a huge positive during runs when we are repeating the play so often.
It is important at this point in time for people working on the show outside of the rehearsal room to see a run; Alice and Heather (Wardrobe) need to know where and when costumes are to be plotted, Malcolm (Lighting Designer) has been in throughout the week responding to opportunities for lighting in the production and Jeremy and James (Headlong and WYP Artistic Director’s) came in with fresh eyes to offer feedback on the work.
All of these influences and observations are helping make the whole production tighter and more robust, which we hope will serve us well as we enter into the place where time takes on a whole new meaning… The technical rehearsal.