We’ve had an exciting start to rehearsals for our David Mamet libraries production! David Schaal, Siu-see Hung and myself have been detectives searching through the incredible detail of the history of the characters’ lives in Reunion. Bernie and Carol have not seen each other in 20 years since he left her and her mother when she was a child, and this first meeting of trying to work out if they can have a relationship in the future brings up so much detail from their past lives, sometimes painful, sometimes funny, often moving, and always intriguing. There’s so much detail to sift through and we’ve had our lists of facts about the characters’ past lives and the questions where we’ve had to work things out to make sense of their past or make up our own detail to create a fully rounded backstory for the actors. David Mamet has put so much detail into the lives of these two characters – Bernie, ex-alcoholic, ex-tail gunner in the war, and lineman on the Cape outside Boston, Massachusetts and his daughter Carol, whose relationship with her mother, with her new older husband Gerry and his two children from his previous marriage, that it is a joy to work through it all in rehearsals to bring these characters fully alive to you in performance. We also have to work out what the characters want at each moment – what their intentions are – and how these intentions towards each other change at various points in the play.
Dark Pony is such a different experience to rehearse. It’s as much like a fairytale story or poem in its beautiful lyricism as it is a play. A father tells his daughter a story. Siu-see Hung has to suddenly switch to being a child under 10 years old displaying all the childlike naivety and joy of being told a favourite story by her father. The language is so filled with nuanced detail and beautiful imagery we have to work out how much to let the words speak for themselves and how to bring the images fully alive for the audience. We really want the audience to feel that joy of being a kid again and snuggling up to be told a favourite story by a parent. So you may get to snuggle up on a bean bag or cushion to be told this magical fairytale! (though there will be chairs available too).
Meanwhile, our designer Bex has been into rehearsals to discuss the characters with the actors and show mood boards with images of what they might wear before she goes off sourcing to find things that might be appropriate. And various props are making their way into rehearsal (one of which I managed to break as soon as I held it so clearly directors shouldn’t be given lovely props that might be in any way fragile!) The plays are set in 1970s Boston but we’re in 2017 London libraries. So we want what our characters wear to feel both appropriate to the environment today but also have a flavour of 70s America so they don’t feel out of place both for where they are and for the words they say. We have to make some decisions for how we bring those two worlds together in a way that feels believable.
We can’t wait to share these fascinating plays of David Mamet’s early work with you in the beautiful library settings – they really are extraordinary plays. And all the libraries are so different – Battersea with it’s hidden away stunning reference room, Clapham with its modern spiral, John Harvard with its funky lighting… Which library are you going to discover with us?
We can’t wait to see you there!