Friday, 4 February 2011

Day five at Bradford Theatre in the Mill

We start our day with a trip to get supplies. Personally I find it very difficult to eat when I’m nervous/excited in advance of a performance so it’s really important to have small things that are easy to consume and digest within reach during the last leg of our preparation.
The whole team seems to appreciate the opportunity to stock up (Dean’s request for scotch eggs and strawberry milkshake causes no end of amusement – who knows why). Maybe our run out to the supermarket seems like an insignificant detail but those of us who head over Bradford Uni campus to Sainsbury’s approach it like pioneers on a mission and we walk with a certain swagger. We’re charged with a very focussed energy and we know that what we're doing is the foundation for the day ahead of us.
Working on the final scene
Once we return to the space we crack on with a warm up and then begin to work on fixing the scene which was left untouched the previous night. This takes up a couple of hours. We work at a steady moderate pace but I am constantly watching the time.

Generally there’s a lot of discussion throughout our process. Sometimes I am glad of it, other times less so. It’s easy to slip off on a tangent and to get snagged up on detail and when we’re working to tight deadlines it can be challenging. The discussion tends to be motivation/intention of action and the relationship between the action and the soundtrack. Often this brings up character/relationship issues. The challenge comes when, as director, I’m trying to structure the day and am very aware of what needs to happen when and how much time we really have to do what is necessary. However, as director, it’s also my job to make sure that the performers are tuned in to their motivations/intentions/character/relationships and as writer I sometimes need to furnish them with what they need to access their characters and relationships. In fact, without this detail the structure of the action can not be established. It’s a balancing act. Thankfully we manage to pull it off and fit in a run of everything new that we’ve established this week.

Next we move into tech time. Ivan has already rigged and plotted the lights but they need focussing and then we need to work out the states and the cues. We’ve set aside three hours to do this work. Jonnie takes the lead on directing this part of the process. I know little about lighting and we’ve never lit Elephant in the Room before so I’m pretty redundant (I could do with brushing up on this stuff actually – as director I should have a clearer idea of what I want and how to communicate that to lighting designer/technical support team).

We/I were/was expecting the lighting to be pretty simple so I’m surprised at the level of detail that we’re working with. I’m also delighted by the elegant results of working with this level of detail. The lighting offers a fluid movement around the space and helps establish were the focus should be on the stage (which will avoid a problem that occurred in a previous showing where it wasn’t always clear who was ‘talking’).
Dean & Frank Jnr standing in place as lights are focussed
In my imagination I had visualised something much more expressionistic/abstract with the lighting (Bradford Theatre in the Mill has a low ceiling so the lights are quite close to the performers which gives a kind of down lighting rather than more gentle angles onto them) but what I’m seeing isn’t what I visualised (though I very much like what I’m seeing – I just don’t know much about lighting so my expectations were naïve – plus, the expressionist/abstract lighting wouldn’t have shown enough facially and this is essential for the non-verbal communication). I check in with Ivan to ask him if what we’re doing is what he had planned as I’m conscious of the amount of time we have remaining and feel it’s really important to fit a tech run in.

My thinking is that once the states have been established (which is quite time consuming) the tech work will pick up a pace towards the end. Ivan confirms that this will be the case but that we’ll use the full three hours set aside for tech to finish working with this level of detail on the lighting. This means we’ll need to factor in a tech run outside of the tech time. Thankfully there’s room in the schedule to accommodate this.

The results of the whole weeks work culminate in the tech run. It really is a pleasure.

Next, it’s preparation for the audience feedback session after the performance. It’s important to have questions for the audience so that we get what we want from the feedback. It’s also important to frame the questions so that they generate debate and don’t intimidate the audience. Open questions that don’t use alienating jargon.

Some of our questions are What are you hearing? Why don’t the family speak to each other? What is happening in the ‘shake and vac scene’? It feels a little bit like setting an exam…

Another hour passes and the house opens to the audience…

1 comment:

FP said...

Your blog is interesting, has left a great impression.
Best wishes