Week 2 of rehearsals (out of 3) is over and we are having a ball breathing life back into the first play from acclaimed writer, Kevin Elyot. We have worked on exercises, shared research and made some amazing discoveries. In week 2, we are reaping the rewards of playing with the text in rehearsal and are watching the piece grow stronger as a result.
As an emerging theatre director with a limited budget, rehearsal time is something that is often scarce. It can be tempting to skim through a process in order to get to the finish line, especially, when time is a pressure. This week has reaffirmed my belief of the importance of exercises and of allowing time to play in the rehearsal room.
Point of Concentration
Adam (Director) gives actors a concentration point to play whilst rehearsing a scene. An example would be asking the actors to whisper the lines into each others ears as quietly as possible, pointing and clapping to signify and punctuate cue lines. This must be done off book. The actors aren’t allowed to help each other and the creative team are also to abide. Scary, eh?
Adam urges actors to relish the silences of dropped lines whilst encouraging them to enjoy finding them. By finding the thoughts and connecting the dots together independently; they have found out more than if they were spoon fed lines. Now, they have a practical and ingrained map of the thought process to help them back if they ever get lost. So in a way, this exercise works as an insurance policy against any potential line drops or blips that may arise.
We built on the exercise by removing the plays setting, changing characters and giving conflicting objectives to the text. Before we knew it we had done the same scene in an array of scenarios from Bingo halls, to baptisms, to outer space and back again. Not to mention the array of celebrities, mythical creatures and various animals we met along the way. As you can imagine, it was fascinating to watch. We had incredible moments of focus and revelation. Not only did we run the scenes countless times, but in doing so the actors have become experts on thought process and have found some real chunks of gold.
Adam doesn’t block, he lets the actors follow their instincts; rehearsals are a safe environment where they can offer ideas. The only exceptions are stage directions, which are usually there for a reason. They are the facts and inform the dimensions of character and setting.
Once they are adhered to, the actors have all the tools they need to navigate the space naturally without the restriction of prescribed directorial blocking; they instantly have a special ownership of the space. It is also worth noting that by this point in Adams’ process the actors have already ran the play off book after only ten days of rehearsal. Impressive, eh? Their familiarity with text allows for the freedom and informed exploration of the space. This is not set in stone and the actors are encouraged to continue to experiment and keep playing. Which means more fun and games next week! Yay!