Trouble in Mind | Rehearsal Diary 3

An insight into the third and final week of rehearsal with Assistant Director Fay Lomas.

Our final week in the rehearsal room has been dedicated to finessing the work we have already done.

We’d had a fair bit of time since working Act 1, so we spent the earlier parts of the week getting ourselves reacquainted with the act. One thing we’ve been exploring is the bubbling energy of the first day of rehearsals. The strange thing about theatre is that it can feel like having that nervous feeling a child gets on the first day of a new school – but on several occasions every year. You’re constantly thrown into new environments, with a new thing to work on, and new people to work with. We’ve been taking our understanding of this strange, exciting day that is the first day of rehearsals and putting it into our playing of Act 1. Laurence has emphasised that Act 1 needs to feel like it slips by, floating on the energy of the first day of rehearsals.

We’ve also dedicated a significant amount of time to exploring the status of Manners (the director) in the rehearsal room. He is a director from Hollywood, who is gracing Broadway with his presence on this one show. People have seen his work, and they know he can make their careers if he chooses to take them back to LA to work on his next film (or perhaps break their careers if they fall out with him). We’ve been exploring ways of creating his status – through the manner in which characters address him, through the way in which they create space around him.

After this time delving back into Act 1, we returned to Act 2. One of the points of focus for our work on Act 2 this week has been continuing to explore the style of acting in the play-within-a-play. We’ve been doing historical research into the theatre company called the American Negro Theatre, which was highly active in the mid 1940s to mid 1950s. We’ve been looking at photos of their productions, as well as finding film footage of actors from that time (Sidney Poitier has been a particularly useful point of reference). We’re exploring the balance between a way of acting that feels quite stylised to us in the 21st Century, but that at the same time has a kernel of truth within it.

Towards the end of the week, we started to run each act in a variety of ways. Sometimes we’d run it sitting in a circle, so as to reconnect to the text, focussing on getting the accuracy of textual detail. Another way was to run each act again sitting in a circle, but with the actors standing up when their characters are involved in dialogue within the scene. This was a fascinating exercise as it enabled the actors to be continually playful, moving with their dialogue within (or sometimes around) the circle. It was also very useful to see the added energy it gave when actors stood up to speak – it launched them into the scene. We learnt lots from this exercise, which we then took into running each act in the space with the blocking we have decided upon. We also had one day when we were able to rehearse onstage, with the actual set, which was very helpful.

At the end of the week, we ran the whole play. We’re now into tech week, adding in costumes, sound and lighting, ahead of our first preview on Thursday.

Trouble in Mind | 14 Sep – 14 Oct | Book Now

September 12, 2017