Ex-alcoholic fathers and Indian braves

Reunion & Dark Pony Rehearsal

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. Read more

Rehearsing for promenade digital theatre

Rehearsing ‘A Secret Life’ has been quite different to other processes I have previously been involved in. Due to the very specific nature of the piece, the delivery of the audio via the smartphone app, as well as the outdoor setting, Joanna and the creative team had to devise a rehearsal plan uniquely tailored to the needs of the project.

First came the unconventional order in which things had to be done. The play’s different elements (text, physical journey, digital) had to be rehearsed first apart and then together, focusing on each one separately and then looking at how they all combine to tell a story. At times there was a feeling we were doing things back to front, especially from the actors’ perspective, but in the same way that deciding on the route the play would follow had to precede the final script, so the recording, editing and treating of the audio content had to come before the rehearsal of exact physical action, and the all-important (and for this project ongoing) ‘technical rehearsals’ had to happen alongside the sessions working on characters’ relationships, events and intentions. This way of working meant the actors had to dive in head first and make choices that in a traditional rehearsal context they might not have been required to make until a few weeks in, as well as demanding exactitude and precision, challenges that our cast rose to with good humour and determination. Read more