Some people hate technical rehearsals. The business of trying and re-trying ideas in the dark for hours on end, with your relationship with sunlight going entirely down the drain, pushes many to despair. We’re a sadistic bunch at team-GM, however - we all kind of love techs. It’s in this period that you really start to understand the thing you’ve made and what makes it tick. Only when these characters are on stage, fully lit, in the design you first saw in box form a month ago, does the whole thing truly come together.
Even more exciting, however, is the fact that at long last you have eyes on the show which weren’t there for the rest of the process. Previews allow you to really see how the structure of the play works, and as well as keeping an eye on what’s happening on stage you can tune in to how the audience is reacting to particular moments so that the whole event can be calibrated towards having the maximum possible impact. Over the past fortnight, we’ve cut props, scene changes and moments of unnecessary blocking. Some of the most important aspects of the production as it stands now have been decided upon in the last week.
Some of the changes are miniscule and wouldn’t be clocked by audience members seeing the first preview and a later performance; a quiet sound effect delayed by a couple of seconds here, a prop placed a foot further upstage there. Other choices, however, are more obvious and allow us to tell the story with more clarity and dramaturgical rigour - in rehearsals, for example, the stage was littered with shoe boxes, with no real reason; now, we see three boxes (one for each family member), each with a clearer journey and filled with meaning.
As well as allowing us to consider various technical choices, tech and previews also allow our cast to explore their characters’ journeys in full, getting a better sense of what works at which point and bedding in a clear emotional arc. It’s a thrill watching the people who have been developing over the past month become fully-realised beings in front of your eyes, with a sense that they exist elsewhere, beyond the four walls of the theatre.
And though my thoughts on the rehearsal process stop here, the work absolutely doesn’t stop. Every night, The Glass Menagerie lives in the minds of its performers and its audiences, and all of the choices we’ve made up to this point become real and truthful for the ephemeral moment in which they exist. So, as ever, I'll let Amanda have the last word: “The future becomes the present, the present the past”.