Monday, June 09, 2014

I'm (approximately) following the RSC school of an approach to rehearsals, following on from a nicely steep learning curve over two pretty stupendous RSC-sponsored Open Stages weekends, one in conjunction with the NTS and one back in January at Dundee Rep.

Last week's rehearsal - week one - was mostly about trimming the script. Despite my very best efforts, it was running at 5 minutes and 47 seconds. So some judicious nipping and tucking was required. The two leading ladies were most supportive, not remotely motivated by ending up with fewer lines to learn, I'm sure. So we cut, slashed and burned and fought back the perimeter to something like 5 minutes and a handful of nanoseconds.

(Cue an interesting debate about the merits of swear words. Useful to convey a mood or an emotional state. Sometimes (note the sometimes) superfluous to the required narrative.)

We did some character work around delivering bad news. About trying to persuade someone to do something they don't want to. About clinging onto backbone and certainty in the face of insistent persuasion. In the hopes of every minute of nuance being wrung out of the aforementioned five minutes and nanoseconds.

And then they lolloped through it. Boldly venturing where no highlighter yet had trod. And did pretty respectably, given that they were squished round my fit for just that piece of furniture and no more dining room table. Compact acting.

Sunday just gone, I was reminded yet again of the actor's amazing capacity to speak words without any clear idea of the meaning of them. Particularly pronounced with Shakespeare of course but I was amazed all over again at the variety of interpretation possible with just a handful of words.

We did something like actioning - and you wouldn't think that would take very long given the length of the script. I wasn't even applying a Graham McLaren style precision. But that took up something like an hour. Some few run throughs later and we were summarily interrupted with the production's first casualty. Hilary's poor Chris phoned feebly as he'd sliced his hand open. So First Minister to the rescue and off she sped.

On Wednesday, we put it all together. FM, Artist and Personal Secretary (to the FM, not the Artist) shall all be in the same place at the same time. I like these rehearsals. They remind me that there's a play in the offing and not just teatime fun round my dining room table.


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