Jen's Strangers In Between Diary

June 10, 2016


Week 1 


Assisting on productions is just one of the many opportunities the King’s Head offers its Trainee Resident Directors. It’s probably the placement we look forward to most and with our own productions in the pipeline, its a chance for us to learn from a professional’s process. But we’re under a little pressure, we’ve only got a week to rehearse our plays for #Festival46. So, I’m writing this blog for anyone with a limited rehearsal process, for anyone without the huge Arts Council grant and just has a few days to make it work. One director’s process in 5 days, it can be done. I hope. 


I’d been fortunate enough to assist Adam Spreadbury-Maher back in February on his tour of Trainspotting. A whirlwind experience with generally only a day or two to get in to a venue and rehearse. So, I was really looking forward to watching him work in a full rehearsal process (3 weeks). 


‘The meet and greet’

‘This is the time you need most control, don’t let your fear be projected onto anyone else.’ Adam reminded me as we walked into the rehearsal room. All of the creatives, production team and actors had gathered for our ‘meet and greet’ and model box showing. Of course with only five days of rehearsal a model box is not on the cards but the sentiment still stands. Don’t let fear takeover. 



Before the rehearsal process Adam had asked everyone (including myself) to write a series of lists for the characters. The lists are to be written and read verbatim, no paraphrasing. 

1.) Facts about the characters

2.) What the character says about him/herself

3.) What the character says about other people

4.) What other people say about the character 


It’s a brilliant way of excavating the text and ensures the actor has read the play at least four times. We discussed our impressions of the character and any key themes/questions that arose were set as research tasks. Lists are not limited to the four mentioned above. Actors can make lists of anything that’s important to the play. This is a task you can set before you go into the room. If there’s a significant  theme threaded through the play, set it as a list.


‘Text No Text’

Next up was ‘Text No Text’. This exercise broke up our lists work and is perfect for health checking actors objectives. It works in three stages:

1.) Text

Actors stand and read the text without looking away. 

2.) No Text

Actors play the scene without the text, solely concentrating on their objectives. 

3.) Text

Actors revisit the text. 


Creating your bedroom

This was my favourite part of week one. A 60 minute independent exercise where everyone created their bedrooms and lived a day in their character’s life. It was so interesting to see the decisions actors were making, informed by their earlier list work. It’s such a playful and creative exercise definitely worth including in your 1 week of rehearsals. 


Scene objectives and titles 

And finally, Adam asked actors to go through the text and write an objective and title for each scene. This would be the perfect way to end day 2, a round up of all your hard work. 


So, here we are at the end of week one. What does our five day rehearsal process look like? Well you could do…. 





Text No Text for first half of the play 



Text No Text for second half of the play


Scene objectives and titles 


But there’s one thing missing? What is it? Ah… the read through. Well, Adam doesn’t do them and I whole heartedly agree. Read throughs are stressful, nerve wracking and exposing. At the end of the week we counted that we had been through the play 20 times. What’s the point in wasting your first couple of precious hours? 

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