Monday, 31 August 2009

38 days, 2 hours and 33 minutes...

...until 'The Family' opens on Thursday 8 October 2009 at 7.45pm (according to a little ticker on the Archway Theatre page for the play). Note to self: DO NOT CHECK THE TICKER EVERY 20 MINUTES - YOU WILL DO YOURSELF A MISCHIEF!

Last week was a rather unusual and mildly stressful week - have a read of the previous post and you'll understand why. I began Saturday's session with a visit from John who is doing some work on securing the bed frame. We now have a couple of pairs of floor clamps and the headboard is further secured to the main frame. The next step are a couple of wall brackets for the bed legs to slot into which will then be further secured by rope. Once this has been done we'll start to play with the frame and see what limitations we have. But it's getting there.

At the previous rehearsal I asked Ella and David to arrive at 11.30am to allow Pete and Mandy time to work on Scenes 10 and 1. As Pete is no longer in the play, Mandy and I took some time to hunt for bits of costume and set around Horley town centre. We found two beautiful dressers that would be perfect for the set - a dark brown wood, not too high, wide or deep - both for sale in different charity shops. Neither store has hired furniture out before so the kind ladies behind both counters have taken my details to pass on to their managers. Both should be giving me a call this week. We also found a red skirt for 'Beth' for a bargain £4. I've always imagined Beth in a brown skirt and can't decide if red is too brazen for her character. Will have to think this one out...

Following our mini shopping trip, Mandy and I returned to the studio to meet the gathering actors. I have spent most of this week trying to find a replacement for Pete and had hoped for an X-Factor style gathering of wannabes who I'd audition before casting one and sending the others crying into the bosoms of their families; the Chosen One would then ideally stay on for the rest of the day's rehearsal. Due to the short notice, only one actor, 17-year-old Joe Burns from Worthing, was able to attend.

As I had the rest of my cast I asked Joe to read a scene or two with Ella, David and Mandy while I watched. To a certain extent I felt a little sorry for Joe - you've got three cast members who have begun to gel, a production assistant, the guy you're replacing, and the director (who has also written the play you're reading for!). It was also a little odd for me - I've now grown slightly accustomed to how everyone else reads each part and here was another new voice reading the play. Quite surreal.

Joe read very well and, following last week's excellent rehearsal of Scene 7, I wanted to see how he'd cope with the intensity of the scene. We did the scene in two parts: I showed Joe the basic moves for Peter and asked him to act alongside David as Soldier and Mandy as Beth. Again, he did very well.

The audition lasted about an hour and after Joe left I asked for everyone's opinions, which were all very positive. However, I always like to play devil's advocate and am reluctant to go after the first person I see. David has a couple of friends interested and a couple more Archway members have thrown themselves into the ring, so I'm just waiting to hear back from them. I intend to make a final decision before Wednesday evening so that I can have someone in place before this weekend's rehearsals.

After the audition (and lunch) we went back to the beginning and rehearsed Scene 1. As Pete is no longer in the cast I focused on Mandy's portrayal of Beth. In all honesty, I can't off the top of my head think of anything particularly huge that I asked Mandy to do or change; generally little things to work on here and there.

We then moved onto Scene 2 - the Soldier's entrance. We played around with a couple of tracks (Nine Inch Nail - 20: Ghosts; Dust Brothers - Hessel, Raymond K from the Fight Club soundtrack) but neither quite worked to create the atmosphere that the intensity the character needs. There's a track I started writing about a year ago that might work so I'm going to play around with that. We then focused our time on how Soldier moves - the way he walks, crawls, stands, sits. David has come up with an almost broken skeletal movement that is good but needs a bit of definition in places - Louise Adams has added the video to Facebook so if you're a friend of hers on there then take a look (I'll see if I can post it on here too).

After that we moved onto Scenes 3 and 4, with David stepping in as Peter when Pete had to leave. I've really struck lucky with Ella - at the moment I'm finding that I'm having to direct her very little. Part of me wonders if I should be doing or saying more, or if I'll pick up on things more as we progress, but as it stands now I think she's ticking all the boxes. It was also interesting to see David as Peter instead of Soldier: he's clearly a very good actor who is more versatile than the part of Soldier might show (that's not to say Soldier is a two dimensional character..... come see the play, you'll get what I mean!).

Overall, Saturday was a mixed bag - I'd been a little worried the night before as I really had no idea how things would go. But by the end of the day we'd managed to get some work done. As we're recasting Peter it's now a certainty that we'll need extra midweek rehearsals.

Just a quick addition to say that in the evening I went to see Private Lives at Archway Theatre, written by Noel Coward and directed by Michael Beach. The play was witty, well-directed and brilliantly performed and I'd like to say a huge well done to everyone involved (the cast being Paul Richard Simmonds, Joy Andrews, Peter Westmacott and Laura Marie Martin). And thank you to Michael for all the lifts to theatre while I shadowed him as director in preparation for my main house directorial debut in 2010.

So that's all for now but expect another thrilling instalment in a couple of days when I'm hoping to have what will hopefully be the final casting announcement! Third time lucky n' all that!

38 days, 1 hour and 45 minutes. And counting.........

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