Wednesday, 23 September 2009

"My balls are stuck"

I'm a very happy bunny today, I must say! I may have a sore, hoarse throat and feel like I haven't slept in a month, but the last couple of rehearsals have been, well, pretty darn fantastic.

On my way to Sunday's rehearsal I was mildly worried that we wouldn't get everything done - we only had Peter for the first four hours and I was hoping to get through the entire play in that time, before focusing on other elements in the afternoon. It kinda worked: we managed to get seven of the first eight scenes done before Peter had to shoot off. That afternoon, we also focused on two more scenes - which meant the only scene we didn't touch on Sunday was the final one.

Much of the afternoon was spent testing the limits of the bed and working out how brave David was willing to be. We had a lot of fun working out how David would get on top of the bed, how he would get done, how he would move, who would support which leg and when... The audience obviously won't see it but Daniel and Mark are working hard backstage to support David and make it possible for him to create some pretty beautiful images. Risking having no future offspring (see this post's title!), David really pushed his limits on Sunday and the result is going to be brilliant.

We also spent a little time with Ella and David choreographing their dance. Neither of them are trained dancers and I sometimes forget that performers won't have had the ten years dance experience I've had. Often, even if something that I think is easy and that my body is capable of, doesn't necessarily translate to someone else. However, they're both willing to give things a go and it's starting to get close to what I'm after. From experience, I've also found that non-dancers find repetition a lot easier to work with - so while the dance is very short, we may just choreograph half of it and then repeat. We'll see.

I've got to be very careful what I say regarding a particular item of set but what I will say is that on Sunday we tested it to destruction (literally) and it's going to amaze the audience. I can't wait for you to see it...

Sunday ended on a high and last night (Tuesday) we had an evening rehearsal. We started with Scene 10 and I warned the actors to not be fazed by the addition of some music. There are only three words I can use to describe what happened: God. My. Oh. (you may need to rearrange them yourself). I got genuine goosebumps watching the scene, verging on tearful. The actors performed it beautifully with a gorgeous sense of emotion to the events in the scene; the music elevating it to another level. From the view of the writer, the scene has quickly gone from my least favourite to possibly the complete opposite.

The rehearsal continued at the same very high level. The actors are starting to know their characters and lines a lot more now so they're able to immerse themselves in the scene more fully - Mandy, in particular, was even better last night than I've seen her before. We got through the first act and finished shortly after 10pm, ending on Scene 6.

I've always had problems with Scene 6, long before we started rehearsals. At times it can feel a little hammy, although with the actors up and performing the scene it works a lot better than reading it from the page. I told the actors last night that they were doing a sterling job with the scene - they're performances are great but for me it feels like we're polishing a turd of a scene. We'll look at it again tonight and maybe rethink some of it. (Sorry to bring it down! The last rehearsals have been fantastic so please don't let this make you think otherwise!!)

Another rehearsal tonight and Stevie Pickering is coming along to take the actors' profile photos for the website, blog and programme. She also came on Sunday to take some rehearsal shots which will hopefully be up on this blog soon-ish. Stevie gave me a massive confidence boost on Sunday when she whispered to me, with a massive grin on her face, the wonderful words "It's looking really good!" Big smiley face for Bradley!

(P.S. Last week the counter for this blog jumped from just over 300 visitors to well over 11,000!! Not sure why this is, definitely don't think it's had that many hits - and I promise I haven't been repeatedly refreshing the page...!)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Tricksy Tale of Customer Services

Last time we spoke, Peter Westmacott had joined the cast, I told you a hilarious joke about a fish with no eyes that you told to all your friends (remember how she cried when you told her? and how he wished he was as funny as you?), and I had collected some props. Onto the next thrilling instalment...

So, Peter has settled very quickly into the cast and is throwing himself into the role. Inevitably, as we've been blocking the role for a third time this has caused a little bit of a delay in rehearsals. But now, with all but one scene blocked, we're pretty much in a position to start running the play through during each rehearsal. This Sunday I shall be completing the choreography with David and Ella, and also focusing on some of David's physicality. The character of Soldier is quite an odd one in that we don't really know much about him or necessarily even his purpose, but David has worked wonders and brought the character to life. Actually, the entire cast have been fantastic at moving the characters away from these ideas in my brainbox into the physical world and bringing them to life. But you'll see for yourself when you buy your tickets, yes? Hehe...

Some backstage info for you now: bed sheets! Whilst I don't want to give too much away at this juncture, the sheets for the bed are not made from a material you would normally expect to find on a bed (unless you're into some really naughty stuff...). We got a pretty 40% discount thanks to some sweet talking by Louise, and now Mark and Louise have the task of working out how to attach it to the frame - I'm looking forward to seeing the results this weekend.

Also, I've managed to sort out all the costumes. A mix of eBay, charity shops and Primark have yielded some very good bargains. The cast tried them on for the first time this weekend and they're looking great. Ella's costume in particular is stunning - good job Brad!! Not so good, however, were the two occasions where I changed my mind and queued at Primark Customer Services for an exchange. I've no quibble with the quality of the service, but 45 minutes of queuing is not my idea of a fun Thursday evening...

Another issue we had recently was the musical accompaniment from the first entrance of Soldier. Now, I'm the first to admit that the play could be perceived as a Bradley Barlow Egofest so it was with some trepidation that, when I couldn't quite find the right sound I wanted, I decided to write that particular piece of music myself. By way of an apology for the delay since the last blog entry, regular readers can get an exclusive peek at the track by visiting my Myspace page and listening to 'Destruction' here.

Just coming up to three weeks until opening night and we've got about eight rehearsals left. Bricking it? Sure. Will we pull it off? You betcha!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Peter and the Props

(Not to be confused with Pete and the Pirates, Peter and the Wolf, or Dave)

A busy few days have passed with a number of very good actors interested in taking on the role of Peter. As regular readers may be aware, on Saturday I auditioned Joe Burns, a talented young actor from Worthing. That evening I saw Private Lives at the theatre and was informed that two actors at Archway Theatre (Tom Robinson and Peter Westmacott) might be interested in being involved. I'd also been chatting with a friend of David's (Tom Clear) about the possibility of auditioning.

Tom C sounded up for it but, as he is a professional actor, I decided that I couldn't run the same risk as I had with Peter Russell dropping out and with regret had to take him out of the running. In a similar vein, Tom R's schedule for September looked incredibly full on and we both agreed that it wasn't really feasible.

Which left me with two options - a new, younger actor who I could mould into what I wanted (Joe), or an actor I had seen perform and would be able to step into the role easily and had brought something quite different to the character during the first workshop (Peter W).

Following some shifting and adding of rehearsal dates, I'm very pleased to announce that Peter Westmacott will be playing Peter in next month's production of The Family. Peter was unable to do a couple of weekend dates which we switched and actually worked in our favour regarding availability of the studio. We've also added in a few evening rehearsals where the primary intention will be to concentrate on the relationship between Peter and Beth.

I'd like to thank Joe Burns for coming all the way to Horley for the audition and have suggested he might consider joining Archway Theatre as I'm sure there'd be plenty of directors interested in casting him in the future.

So with a full cast I popped up to the Props Store at the theatre and found a selection of fairly vintage bits and bobs for use on the dinner table and display on the dresser. I also found a couple of rugs that would work.

(Erm, maybe the title was misleading but I don't really have much else to discuss on props right now. I might take some saucy photos of said props at the weekend. Ooer missus!)

The next rehearsal will begin at 10am in the Rehearsal Arch where I shall be choreographing the dance between Emma and the Soldier. At 12, when the Studio becomes free, we'll move into there and be joined by the rest of the cast to crack on with the rehearsal. A full report that evening (or the following day).

Just want to sign off by thanking the cast and crew with sticking by myself and the production during all the changes. It gives me faith and confidence that it's all worth it. (I feel I should lighten the mood with a joke... Hmm... What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh. Hehehehe) Till next time.