Archives For rehearsals

A rare event - the whole cast present at a rehearsal! YAY!

A rare event – the whole cast present at a rehearsal! YAY!

This week we rehearsed (and it was GOOD) and we filmed the trailer. This is very exciting. Very very exciting. I hope the low level spooky lighting comes out well. I haven’t uploaded anything from the camera yet, so I have no idea what I’ll see. Well, that’s not true, I was there at the time watching Jim film and actually I have a very good idea of what I will see on film. You see! I just can’t tell a lie (for long). Meanwhile Alex (helping with direction & operating lights) took a jolly nice pic of the whole cast rehearsing a scene. Yes, you heard … the WHOLE cast, together in one room on the same night. Crumbs.

Anyway, after last week’s tantalising post revealing key lines from the play, I imagine you’ll be wanting more. I also imagine that I imagine that because I like to imagine things, rather than the fact that you actually do want more. But, I’m doing it anyway because I like to live in a fantasy world….

(These are lines that I recorded the cast speaking this week to go on the trailer – have I mentioned the trailer?)

I like a solo piano. A poignant moment in which to reflect on the loneliness that exists within each one of us.
I just thought you should realise that this is not a comedy … deep eh?
Come on, let us dance …
But there is dancing (sort of)
Why is there only ever one chair?
And some bits are funny – ish (ok, it’s visual) Just realised you had this one last week – it must be important! Contemplate this one …
There is so much that we simply do not understand
You’re telling me! Key phrase for the whole play!
We are not alone

Anyway, on that scary note I shall retreat into the world of film footage and see if I have enough from the half hour available to make a 2 minute trailer.

There really is no hope for me ...

There really is no hope for me …

Last night we had a good rehearsal and I took a few pics with my phone. Trouble is .. well, let’s be honest .. I’m rubbish at taking photos, I was using my phone and the lighting was dim (we were going for ‘creepy’). Result = grainy pics of uninteresting moments. Enter my new app for editing photos. I can’t stop playing. So, this week I discovered the ‘vintage’ button and the graininess suddenly seems irrelevant. Ok, they’re not brilliant photos, but at least you have something to look at.. that should count for something. This pic (above) is of Mark Cox, taken in virtually no light at all (apart from the beam of light on his face). I can’t tell you what he was doing. Mainly because I can’t remember which ‘creepy – looking worried/bothered – surprised’ moment it is. Even if I could, I still wouldn’t tell you. It’s all top secret. But, I can tell you that his character is one of the Ghost Hunters. The question is .. do they actually experience any ghosts? When you hunt, you expect to catch something. Continue Reading…

Get a good game going to loosen up the the 'comfort barriers'

Get a good game going to loosen up the the ‘comfort barriers’

Also in this series:
Offbeat Directing 1: The Vision Quest
Offbeat Directing 2: Understanding the Script
Offbeat Directing 3: Dreaming and Planning
Offbeat Directing 4: What Does the Director Do?
Offbeat Directing 5: Trial by Audition
Offbeat Directing 6: The First Awkward Read Through
Offbeat Directing 7a: Who Does What?
Offbeat Directing 7b: Early Rehearsals and Cunning Plans
Offbeat Directing 7c: Your Design Team
Offbeat Directing 7d: Infrastructure!

Ah .. the comfort zone. The place where most actors will stay unless pressed to break out. It’s that safe place where you walk in a way that feels ok, talk in your own voice or one you’re familiar with, interact with other actors in a non-threatening manner. It’s a safe, comfortable place to be. But it isn’t ever enough. Whenever you start to feel slightly embarrassed, uncomfortable, vulnerable or just plain scared, that’s when you’re breaking the comfort barrier. And this is good!

Analogy: Your body is remarkable. Your brain has a memory of every muscle you possess and knows exactly how far that muscle can stretch. When it reaches the stretch barrier your brain says ‘no, that’s quite enough stretching, thank you, this is where I’m staying.’ Pretty clever, keeps you safe. It bases this limitation on factors like how much you use the muscle and physical and emotional truama that have affected the area. You have a ‘range’ of movement that becomes normal for you. If you want to go beyond it, you’ll have to practise and reset the brain/muscle controlled barrier. So when you decide to take up yoga (for example) or any other stretching exercise, you have to repeatedly work on stretching your ‘normal’ range of movement until it is gradually increased. If you only do this once a week your progress will be very slow. The more you practise, the more you change.

Now think of theatre. Continue Reading…

Charging on with Maskerade

Barbara —  October 9, 2013 — Leave a comment
Getting some action going

Getting some action going

Actually, we got back to rehearsals a month ago but my blogging went out the window. Blogging block? Who knows… anyway, back to it and rehearsals are good. Really, for a show of this size, magnitude, girth and weight I would want a lot longer than we have. But .. we’re on in December so there’s no time to worry about it.

This is why I’m ‘encouraging’ the cast to GET THEIR BOOKS DOWN asap. It seems too soon, but it isn’t. The important thing is to work backwards from performance, not forwards from the safety of the cosy comfort zone of early rehearsals where performances seem such a long way off that actually learning anything at all seems completely unnecessary, (a long sentence I know – I did it on purpose .. read quicker and then you won’t run out of breath). Continue Reading…

Directors are delicate creatures prone to falling over. Try to be kind by popping along to support them at rehearsals whenever you can ....

Directors are delicate creatures prone to falling over. Try to be kind by popping along to support them at rehearsals whenever you can ….

For no particular reason, (honest – my Maskerade cast are pretty damn good), I’ve recently been wondering why so many folk want to perform on stage, but don’t seem to appreciate that in order to do that well, (or even a bit well), you need to practise. I’m a bit pushy with cast when it comes to rehearsals (meaning I actually require them to be there), but even then there will always be one ….

ACTOR: If I don’t come to the rehearsal this week will I miss anything?
ME: Yes, you’ll miss the rehearsal
ACTOR: But is it important?
ME: If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t bother having it
ACTOR: (Slightly thwarted) Oh. So .. do I need to be there?
ME: (Withering look)

I can’t actually imagine a scenario where we all get to rehearsal and I announce “today we are going to rehearse all the pointless and unimportant parts of the play, feel free to leave before we start as I really don’t want to waste your time …” However, I suppose some people are just hopelessly optimistic.

I recently watched the last bit of a rehearsal for a show that was due to go on in 10 days or so. Most of the cast weren’t there. Nor was the (rather crucial) musician. I just can’t get my head round it. Where were they? Being in a play is a privilege. It’s a joyful commitment you make to create a performance with a whole load of other equally committed people that will be worthy of the ticket price and the audience’s attention. Why on earth wouldn’t you want to be the very best you can be? How can you bear to go on stage knowing that you haven’t given everything? So many rhetorical questions, so little time to bang your head against the nearest hard surface.

Well, it happens I know. A conundrum. Oddly, it also inspired me to write a limerick or three. There really is no reasonable explanation for that either. You may want to look away now …..

A lazy old actor called Fred
Preferred to rehearse from his bed
When it got to first night
An attack of stage fright
Drove everything out of his head

His lines were all over the place
His entrances quite a disgrace
He ‘died’ on stage
Three times every page
Of ‘character’ there wasn’t a trace

There are notions you need to dispel
If this rhyme is ringing a bell
It isn’t a curse
To need to rehearse
It’s the process that helps you excel!

Apologies. I’ll start writing a more useful blog post now!

Geting into character .. funny nose and a pointy hat and you're there! Well, it's a fun way to start..

Geting into character witch style .. funny nose and a pointy hat and you’re there! Well, it’s a fun way to start anyway..

Proper in the sense that we can start working on all the aspects of performance we need to get through. This was a fun start and, as you can see, I brought along a few bits of costume to help the process. I’m not using funny noses in the show (unless the said nose is permanently attached to the actor), but it can be quite liberating to change your appearance a bit. It wasn’t quite so hot this week, I wasn’t quite so grumpy, people arrived at the appointed time and all was well with the world. Continue Reading…

Almost (but not quite) a full cast and a slightly grumpy director.

Almost (but not quite) a full cast and a slightly grumpy director. Photo by Tom Flathers

I should re-title my Offbeat Directing post – The First Awkward Read-through – The First Awkward Read-through if you’re lucky enough to get your cast there on time or even at all…. I won’t ramble on about the first half hour when only half the cast were able to keep in touch with that flighty and evasive little known (but occasionally useful) aspect of life we call ‘time’. I did the ‘I am not amused’ bit while the rest of the cast made the most of their unexpected socialising opportunities. Why is it so hard! (please read that in an anguished voice whilst pounding your head against the nearest wall). Not quite a full cast, but only two missing. Harrumph! Must be the heat giving me unrealistic expectations, an inability to spell grumpy noises and a dash of bottom lip. Continue Reading…

Our maskerade video presenters

Our ‘making of’ video presenters .. and very sensible they are too. Pic by Tom Flathers

Hooray! We all survived the audition process swiftly followed by casting and, to my delight, we have a company of lovely folk who are all game for whatever part/s they are given! I don’t think I’ve ever been to this strange place before. Even the girl (who I’m sure would have preferred a glamourous role) I cast as the enormous male opera singer was excited by the prospect of a serious acting challenge in a fatsuit. Result! While I was auditioning the actors one or two at a time Tom and the rest of the company were creating videos and havoc in the foyer. So we had this lovely atmosphere of excitement and mayhem in one place and focus and concentration in another. There was a lot of singing going on as well. No idea about that – obviously it was some sort of vocal warm up for the impending audition. Ummm … maybe not. Anyway, is was a very happy place to be.

Casting wasn’t easy, but it never is when your characters are actually supposed to be many years older than your actors (Nanny Ogg is in her 70s in theory) AND you need to cast girls as male characters because you don’t have enough lads (usually the way). Because the group is only 16 strong and the characters outnumber them significantly, only 9 pople get to play just one role. The rest play 2 or 3 different characters. But we have a cast that we’re all happy with and next week we get to the First Awkard Read-Through stage. Can’t wait.

By the way, whilst auditioning my good friend Boz read in all sorts of parts and he really does make an excellent Granny Weatherwax .. and Nanny Ogg … very witchy indeed. So tempting ….

Get your cast relaxed and playing games to start.

Get your cast relaxed and playing games to start. Floaty costumes optional…

Also in this series:
Offbeat Directing 1: The Vision Quest
Offbeat Directing 2: Understanding the Script
Offbeat Directing 3: Dreaming and Planning
Offbeat Directing 4: What Does the Director Do?
Offbeat Directing 5: Trial by Audition
Offbeat Directing 6: The First Awkward Read Through
Offbeat Directing 7a: Who Does What?

You have a cast, crew and a whole host of people waiting to hear what it is you want and need in order to get the production underway (hopefully). Time to unleash the cunning plan – which consists of what you’re going to do in rehearsals and when. In Post number 7c we’ll look at Design Meetings and in 7d the Infrastructure you’ll need in place to allow the magic (or pay for it) to happen. By the way, all the ‘7’ posts are together because they all need to happen around the same time. But for this post, it’s just you and your cast. They arrive, they look at you … do you break into a cold sweat or deploy your plan? Well, let’s do both. Continue Reading…

Here's hoping they won't hold back at audition (although Boz, pictured here, is actually the lighting designer - I like my team to be versatile!)

Here’s hoping they won’t hold back at audition (although Boz, pictured here, is actually the lighting designer on this occasion – I do like my team to be versatile!)

I’ve been planning this for months now (as you would expect from the Offbeat Directing Series of blogs on this site!!) Now up to the dreaded audition bit (see the blog post)! I don’t really like auditions. I find that nearly all the group will audition for the same parts, so in the last few weeks I’ve been trying to encourage a bit of diversity. I hope I’ve succeeded. The group is 16 strong and there are many, many more parts than that … so, multiroling is key. It took me AGES to work out which characters can be played by an actor also playing another part. We’ll see if it works!

At the same time as I’m auditioning on stage Tom (photographer) will be working on his video diaries and, no doubt, taking a few groovy pics! So … I’ll update when everyone has auditioned and been cast. Not expecting anyone to get terribly upset, but they can’t ALL play Agnes Nitt! And why is no one auditioning for the lovely part of the Opera tenor of gargantuan proportions (fatsuit anyone?) Greebo the cat-who-turns-human-sometimes will be a challenge (although he appears to look a bit like a Johnny Depp style pirate – that would work). The casting of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg is also a big challenge and (apart from other important considerations – obviously) I’m really hoping not to have to make new costumes (we did Wyrd sisters some years back). But .. if required costumes are always fun to make!

So … here goes! Fingers crossed for a good, clean audition. No biting, scratching or hysterical outbursts please… Cover me ..I’m going in….