Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Life, Mirrors, Art and Smokescreens.

We're pushing along calmly with the work. Tuesday was a very good rehearsal day. In the morning we worked carefully through the monologues and oral histories - deciding on the stakes behind the revelation of each memory. Which are vivid? Which fading? and what is the emotional cost of the recall? If we had more time we'd really try and capture the rhythm behind the reminiscence - but for now the focus is on clarity and narrative. Emily and Moira found that in the time we had.

The afternoon was great fun with the actors revelling in some of the more boisterous scenes. We spent an hour on the Lord Chamberlain section, which George and Katie had worked on in the V&A. Ian plays him like a corpulent bullfrog - shouting obscenities at the top of his voice, whilst Fran plays the Comptroller serpentine and slimy sycophantically agreeing with every word his boss utters.

Wednesday was tougher as we struggled with the eighties section when Laurence Llewellyn Bowen came as Carl Toms assistant to take part in the refurbishment. In Tender Souls we've got him meeting the ghost of Matcham to discuss the new designs. Fran suggested some cuts and slowly, working with Connor, we managed to shape a playable compromise and keep things together.

It was a bit of a tightrope - trying to honour the very good work Connor, Zoe and Jess had put into the scene - whilst giving the actor some security that the weaker sections weren't 'hanging him out to dry.' I suppose it's inevitable that by the third day any weaknesses in the writing (and there aren't many) will be signalling themselves to the actors - who, a day away from performance, begin to get jittery about any line that we haven't yet found a playable solution too.
Oddly enough as we worked in Strawberry Hill, Laurence himself turned up at the theatre to do some filming for his new TV series. Eleanor had some time with him and began texting new verbatim lines - which, fortunately given our negotiations, I didn't pick up until rehearsals finished.

The set delivered, Stage Manager Karen and I headed off for the pub to work through a paper tech in preparation for the morning. She is calmness personified. Nearly there.

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