Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I'm worried that I might be becoming too much of a slave to The Book. Last night, I advised Cauchon that though we'd discussed him using a walking stick (I'm paranoid about an audience not being able to tell one character from another. Daft as they probably universally have better facial recognition than me.), he shouldn't in fact be so impeded as in 1431, he was only 58. So whilst this may have been ancient by the standards of the time, particularly as two thirds of them were already dead from the Plague, it doesn't quite warrant mobility assistance. He took it with good grace. He probably hadn't ever wanted a stick in the first place.

We did our first begining to end run through last night. I was expecting to be weeping with frustration twenty minutes in. But all tribute to them all, they stumbled through womanfully. I am very lucky to have such a cast. It's a beast of a show though. Two hours and thirty seven minutes with no interval and no pause for songs.  I hope it gets tidier as time goes by!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Poor things (poor cast). Now they're competing with actual historical people. 

I've abandoned a podcast that was sinisterly obsessed with Joan's hymen (just as repellent as it sounds) and instead, I have started on this wondrous thing which contains lots of lovely detail, lots of quotes from Joan's actual letters which pleases me and better yet, it's also replete with references to the various plays, books, songs written about her. She obviously likes Anouilh's version of events as he gets lots of page time. She seems to approve of his careful and thorough research. In my mind, she also doesn't like Shaw all that much. I wish she had seen Gill Taylor's translation - I feel she would have approved.

So the poor actors last night enjoyed the spectre of me quoting extensively from the book, sharing what I'd learnt and Bev is somehow meant to layer onto the script about Queen Yolande. Then I forced Joan to listen to me reading about little Jeanne lurking in the vegetable garden at her father's house when the Blessed Saint Someone Or Other first appeared to her in a blinding cloud of light. 

I'm not wholly alone in my fixation. Our Agnes had done some excellent research to uncover her very casual and flaunty attire which we shan't let taint our costuming thinking. Which drew me to the second book down in the futher reading section which I don't think I'll rush to enjoy. 

I'm not sure I've done a play before featuring people that actually existed. It's a curious and curiously compelling exercise. 

Friday, March 08, 2019

I finished John Julius Norwich's History of France.

I gulped up four episodes of History on Fire's interpretation of the story of Joan of Arc.  (A beautifully eloquent Italian professor who spent six months reading and kindly condensed it into just under 8 hours.) 

And then I felt readier to begin rehearsals. 

I'm feeling an odd historical responsibility to get the story straight in my mind. I imagine the actors will ask me a difficult and detailed question which I have to be able to answer. And actually, it's all a bit daft as all we really have to go on is what's in the script.  

While I fantasise that someone could hold up placards explaning all my background knowledge as we skip through the necessarily version of events, I suspect the audience may not welcome it.

So instead, this has turned into a series of 'character workshops' with the actors that have me babbling, pouring out and exhaustively sharing all that I've learnt. So the poor things turn up to talk about their character and wind up being hit over the head with a history essay. (I flatter myself. Hit over the head with a few scraps of half-remembered knowledge really.)

It's off going from having directed a couple of things that actually involved almost no prep as it was all in my head to going to something where there is a stack of knowledge available, should you wish it.

I've ordered another book. I'm hoping it arrives very soon. 
The glorious Dark Carnival by Vanishing Point was exactly what La Cirque de Muerta should have been, if only we had the money (and I had a better imagination). Skulls, whisky from jam jars, huge letters spelling out The Dark Carnivals such as you might find on a coffin and roses festooning the band. Delicious attention to detail and quite quite gorgeous.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Poor blog. Sorry. I saw a lot of films last week. Something that I comically awfully can't even remember. Oh, it was this. A not very memorable title but a perfectly good film. Then there was Capernaum which was superb. Amd i was surprised that The Guardian gave Green Book three stars. I thought that was stingy. Though I guess I can see where they're coming from. I expected to hate this but it was better than expected. Much. 

And in the middle of all of that, we began rehearsals.