Monday, 1 March 2010

Rehearsal report 14

It’s make or break time for Nature Nurture.

Outside of the rehearsal room I have scrutinised the recording we took at the last rehearsals and put together an order that I am satisfied suggests/resonates the story and the points that we have been trying to make through our explorations of the subject matter.

This creates a framework for the rehearsal ahead. I have a clear idea of the ‘scenes’ and what should happen when.

So, there’s a very different ‘vibe’ in the rehearsal room. The performers are relieved and even seem happy. I am in quite a positive mood which helps.

Just before we start on the blocking, Jonny asks various questions about the piece. He has obviously been thinking about a few things. Jonnie is not sure that the ‘jumper straight jacket’ metaphor is strong enough. I can see where he is coming from but I think that using an actual straight jacket (one of his suggestions) would be giving off a very wrong signal indeed. Jonnie also suggests that Arnold could simply be put into pyjamas by his parents rather than the jumper straight jacket, but again, this gives off a completely different message.  The performers seem happy to stay with the straight jacket idea. When we block the scene and rehearse the action of dressing Arnold greater emphasis is given to the jumper straight jacket which helps illustrate the metaphor.

Jonny also starts to explore the possibilities of having both sound bites and spoken word. He asks how the audience will connect with the performers if they remain silent. He suggests that there may be some interaction between the sound bites and the onstage spoken word. I agree that these are all valid points and suggestions. Exploring interaction between the sound and the spoken words is a very interesting idea, but I see that this would be possibly something for the future rather than something for the festival on 6th March.

How the audience will connect with the performers/characters is the next major challenge of the piece and as we begin to rough it out I realise how much direction is going to be required from me to make the performances sufficiently engaging. I have performed before in a multi media context so I understand how to perform with a multi media ‘back drop’ (though in this instance the back drop is audible rather than visual) but the performers I’m working with are not as clear about this as I am. I realise that again, the kind of performance style I’m looking for is not very common. Plus, the performers are bound to be a little bit confused because of all the character work we’ve been doing. They are expecting to draw from that rather than in part toning it down (but not losing it completely) as I am now asking them to.

Jonny and Maddie set about editing the recording according to the order I have selected so that we can try out the scenes with the sound bites played over.

It is obvious that there is potential for the piece. Everyone feels a sense of achievement.

We agree to work through the technical and blocking work for today and to work on finer detail at the next rehearsal.

The rehearsal is very tech orientated as Jonny and Maddie work on the sound bites, but when the four hours is up we have a fully blocked and almost soundscaped piece.

The cast of Mother and I and Also Pink arrive as we’ve arranged for all the work to be shown to the full cast. Gathering everyone together is also intended to offer some orientation and for everyone to be aware of the project as a whole. We do a warm up song together to break the ice and I outline the rehearsal room etiquette.

We get to run each piece twice and I am able to give a few notes and invite comments from the whole group on Nature Nurture.  I hope that the audience feedback will encourage the performers of Nature Nurture to feel more confident about the unusual performance style I’m asking of them.

I’m not getting the level of performance that I have seen in previous rehearsals for Mother and I and for Also Pink but I think the context (of a work sharing and orientation rehearsal) is causing this so I’m not too worried at this stage.

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