Thursday, 25 February 2010

Rehearsal report 9

‘Mother and I’ rehearsal with Ruth (playing Lucinda) and Sarah-Louise (playing Fiona). We’re expecting our writer friend Ewan to come in to look at our work to give us an outside view of the piece.

In advance of Ewan’s arrival I give Ruth and Sarah-Louise a revised script. I point out that I have removed the ending as it was written (a ridiculously extreme ending statement which seems to come from nowhere) and have concluded the scene in a more simple, and possibly more impactful way (with Lucinda having a drink and leaving the stage with a bottle of wine).  Ruth is supportive of this ending and suggests that less is indeed more in this instance. Ruth suggests that our (my?) previous pre-occupation with ‘how bad has it got for Lucinda?’ might be misguided because in  alcoholism it can always get worse and worse and this is known, Ruth thought that in the situation that we were in is actually more subtle and the smaller things are more interesting than the bigger things.  We all review the script again and take out other instances where the writing goes further than is necessary. I am most satisfied with these revisions. The script now seems more truthful and more human and more about the two characters involved than a generic situation.

Ewan arrives and we show him a very dry run. Ewan reassures us that we do have something that will be presentable for the festival on 6th March and describes briefly the work that he thinks needs to be done. He thinks it is especially important to harmonise Ruth and Sarah Lou’s performances, to establish the relationship between the two characters, and to look at the levels of emotional intensity. Thanks to Ewan for coming along.

We spend some time looking at the physicality of the characters and establish Fiona’s strength by her leading from her upper chest and shoulders, Fiona walks quickly and with purpose and direction, she is busy and has a lot to cope with. Lucinda leads from her chin, almost as if she is struggling to keep her head steady. She has a much slower pace representative of the fact that she has little going on in her life so has plenty of time to do things.

We run the script, thinking about how the characters would speak. Fiona finds a middle class accent and speaks in her lower range, this is quite different from her usual speaking voice and brings the level of her performance up considerably while still remaining naturalistic.  Ruth is still experimenting and tries to inject some Yorkshire accent to make her character slightly more naturalistic and less stereotypical. Ruth keeps slipping into her upper range which sounds quite childlike. I make Ruth aware that lower tones would work better to sound older. We walk around the space as we run the script to give it some energy. The scene takes place around a table so is prone to becoming static and losing pace. Walking around seems to help rectify this.

We run the script again (again walking around) with an emphasis on emotional intensity. I suggest that the performers invest as much emotional intensity as they possibly can, to take it to an extreme, so that they start to feel comfortable with it, we can then pare this back in the next rehearsal.

Our final task is to ‘translate’ the text. To break it down and investigate what’s behind each line. Ruth prefers to learn her lines very early on in rehearsals so that she can find the truth in them. This is why I undertake this exercise at this time, so that the performers have an idea of my intention when they memorise the words.

A learning point about performers and truths – the performer will find a character truth within them, these truths should be coaxed from the performer, or planted in the performer to be coaxed out and for it to appear that the performer has thought of it themselves, rather than imposed on the performer. (maybe i should learn about NLP?)

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