Rehearsal: Day 33
2nd October, 2019
These records are being made on 15th October, 2019, following the first weekend of performances. The blog has suffered for the sake of the final rehearsals. I’m relying on my creaking memory, the preparatory notes and the records of meetings between the various parties.
Back again to the beginning
We go back to Act 1. The plan is to run though it all from start to finish. My notes for tonight have a strict sequence of events.
First is the practical backstage rehearsal, going through each of the scene changes, positioning the set furniture and marking it.
Jack and Winnie are unbelievably organised and professional in this task. Always on time, always thinking about what needs to be done and the next steps; taking notes about what is needed, having read the script and been at all of the recent rehearsals.
At the risk of repeating myself, I say that I believe the entire working group of a performance is all important. In order for the whole machine to work every cog working to its potential is the key.
What was fascinating in development here was that, as the play developed in its presentation, these backstage crew became part of the performance. Realising that the play required to move apace, given its length and the need for the short scenes to flow one into another, Jack and Winnie moved in and out of the stage, through the actors, within the scene; finding a way of being that didn’t distract and yet, held their role in the acting space.
We have only time to run through the settings for Act 1 before the next group arrive for rehearsal.
We get through it, words are slow in coming and sometimes we just take up the book, for the sake of everyone getting through tonight. It’s been a few weeks since we looked at Act 1 so I didn’t expect it to be marvellous. But, it’s amazing how much you lose if you don’t repeat the work regularly enough.
My notes show a reminder to check in with various actors, speak to them about certain lines, where they should be, how to make the action flow.
Understanding the Text
Also, I note reminders constantly in my notebook, to clarify text –– to ensure the understanding for the actors of what is going on in the scene.
In the past, I would go through each scene line by line, or chunk by chunk; each section of each scene decoded as you go. Often the beginning of many rehearsals were seated, reading the play.
In this current way of working, the understanding comes from the character work, the particular knowledge of the actor and the emotional charge achieved in rehearsal.
Again, I say … if only I had another month!!
We also have to finish looking at the scenes with Constanze, slowly bringing her (him) into our way of working –– introducing him (her) to the games and exercises that fill out our interactions and engagement with each other.
Other developments this week
Our lighting became an issue last week, and so, the lighting men are now in all the time, trying to work around the actors and artists; during the day, at the beginning of rehearsals. They set up new lights, tweak the positioning of some of them, adding gels. And then, sit through the run-through in order to become more familiar with the play and our interpretation.
Most of the work will be done next weekend so this work is about Paul and Corey’s technical knowledge and a general layout of the lighting stock. Schull Drama Group have an amazing array of lights. It is a dream to have access to good, uptodate equipment.
A lighting designer once said to me “The magic is in the lights.” And he had an artistry with lighting that made me believe him … mostly … At the end of the day, they are there to serve the play and the actors so …
During the week we went into the hall to try out a projector we had borrowed. We had been discussing using two maybe, but with time running out, the practical considerations concerning split images and double projectors were feeding into and colouring the discussions.
In the back of my head was the constant question: Is there any point in pursuing this idea? Have we left it too late? Every time Julia and I spoke, the artistic vision behind it seems to demand more creative energy and thought than we had left to give.
Colm was advising on how to proceed. We brought down the blinds in the hall and turned the projector on. And we played with the light on the projector.
We moved it into various places: towards the window, on the wall, in the corner. Julia had a grey cardigan on, slightly darker than the costumes and that caught the light.
And even with only the blue light from the projector bulb working, I could see what it could bring to the production, just a small bump of visuals, a film-like colour that lifted the stage and the actors on it.
We talked about the optimum colours, the effectiveness of inverting black / white in order to see an image clearly –– white music notes on a black musical stave background, for example.
I had made a list of all of the possible places that projection might add to the play. Julia and I would gather images and send them to Colm, who would put them into a video for us. Following our conversation, we had to pare this idea back completely.
Work was progressing on the set steadily. Each day brought an extra element of colour or construction. The walls and catwalk were completed. Now we had all the props as the focus: the cake stands, the Emperor’s chair elevated, parts of the set being blackened in preparation for the next steps in decoration.
We have some success with the PR and our blurb features in the West Cork Times and West Cork People and the Southern Star.
From now on, we need to promote the play on Facebook from the PlayActing Theatre and Schull Drama Facebook pages. We plan what images we will use, not intending to reveal too much of the design.