Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Rehearsal #1

The date: Saturday 1st August 2009.
The time: 10am.
The venue: Archway Studio Function Room.
The reason? The first rehearsal for The Family!!

Over the last few days I've had a lot of people ask me "Ooh, how did it go?". I stand there. I look at them. And I have a little think. "Yeah, it went really well, thank you". And they continue to look at me, and I think to myself Crikey, that's not enough! They want more from me! So I smile, pause a moment. "Yeah, really really well. Really pleased with it. It's looking good. Thank you". A brief silence, before "Oh good". And off they trot.

And when I say a lot of people, I really do mean quite a few. And it's brilliant that they're showing an interest and offering support etc and I'm not for a single second slating anyone for that because it's a huge confidence boost and fills me with hope that we'll actually have a few people show up and watch the thing. But my problem (and it really is my problem and nobody else's) is that, well, I just don't know what to say! Even now, writing this blog, knowing that people are reading this word here - and now these ones - I just don't know what to write.

The night before (and the hours and minutes leading up to) the first rehearsal, I was bricking it. What if they've changed their minds? What if they refuse to do as I say? What if they laugh in my face, tear up the script and declare they're going to put on 'Cabaret' instead?! Clearly irrational, I convinced myself and headed off to Horley with my folder and duplicate scripts. I arrived to find the Function Room locked and no caretaker in sight - luckily, the main theatre was open for the flat wash for Private Lives, so we borrowed the key from there.

Mandy, Ella and Dan all arrived, raring to go and we entered the Function Room to be hit with the smell of fresh paint - Mandy's hangover was about to get much worse! After opening all possible doors, I took the cast through to the studio to explain how the revised staging would work. There is a bit of a gangway down the side of the stage at floor level - the entrance for which will now form the upended bed. The steps from bedroom to the main room of the house (on stage) will be the stairs at the other end, with the "front door" being stairs at the back of the stage. (Not sure that makes any sense - I'll draw a diagram at some point for you...). We returned to the Function Room and got to work on the first scene - and very quickly we hit our stride. Dan and Mandy have great chemistry and should work well together. Towards the end of the first scene, Peter goes to bed followed by Beth. As the bed is upended, the actors must stand instead of lying down. I moved the actors to the wall and, assisted by Ella, held their scripts so they could position their arms properly - in effect, the first small bit of choreography in the play.

We skipped Scene Two as Soldier hasn't yet been cast (it's in italics for a reason...!!) and moved onto Scene Three. Again, Mandy and Dan were great. It was pointed out that, as the stage is a lot deeper than expected, there would be room for a dresser or shelving of some sort at the back for Beth to potter around at etc. Ella entered as Emma and was great - and again, her and Dan look like they'll have some great chemistry together, with Mandy throwing in a bit wicked sister action.

During a quick lunch we chatted about forthcoming rehearsal dates before starting on Scene Four - a dinner scene with Emma and Peter. As we're mainly only blocking at this stage, I'm not really focusing on performance - but at the moment, I've no worries on that score. At 2.15pm Dan had to dash off to work, so Mandy and Ella went through their couple of short bits together with me reading in for Dan.

Hopefully this blow-by-blow account wasn't too dull a read...?! I think once blocking is out the way I'll be able to tell you a bit more about the practicalities and performances.

And there may be an announcement in relation to Soldier this coming weekend - watch this space... ;-)

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