In the thick of it now.
On Sunday we had the theatre for ourselves. There are three scenes with multiple characters in them, which we've agreed that the young writers can play. The difficulty is that the theatre is large and it's difficult without training to find the volume and clarity to make it work. Still we worked playfully and found some interesting moments in the work.
We brought one of the scenes out into the auditorium - and charging up and down the aisles and into the boxes helped to unleash some energy and bring a bit of energy to proceedings.
Monday morning, with the overnight proofed scripts hot off the photocopier, we began with the professional actors at St.Mary's.
They seem a wonderful bunch. David, whose come into play Frank Matcham, has a CV as long as your arm - working with Lloyd Webber, Trevor Nunn as well as with the RSC, at the National and on Broadway. For all of this there is no grandeur and he settled straight in, questioning the writers over key words and moments and really listening to every comment and point with interest - looking for the detailed clues needed to bring his part to life.
Emily, who plays Jo, a composite of the writers themselves, bounced around the rehearsal beaming with good humour and warmth, relaxing all of them and giving them huge confidence that they themselves would be represented intelligently.
Ian, Fran and Moira set to work immediately looking for the differentiation between the seven and eight roles that each of them have to carry. With fingers crossed we read through, there was laughter and our nerves began to disperse. The writers seemed to physically grow in stature as the words they've spent four months wrestling out of their imaginations took on new forms and rhythms.
In the afternoon we did some more focused work on the first section, slowly blocking out a shape and weighting the lines. The actors are quick and it was a joyful session.
I'm just so pleased and relieved that we're now finally on our way. No matter how much you think you've got the casting and dynamic of a company right you can never be sure until you've got them in the space and up on their feet ... and breathe out!