Junction 8 Theatre is a company limited by guarantee registered in England, Company Number: 10493651

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Week 3 Rehearsal Blog

October 7, 2017

There’s a distinct smell of Autumn in the air as I disembark the train on Monday morning - and its not just the post-breakfast Treacle Toffee on my breath. October has come knocking and we answer its call with our final week of rehearsals and things quietly but resolutely crank up a gear. Most of Monday is spent working on the final few scenes of the play in more detail - as we’ve been working through things chronologically, its taken a while to revisit these particular moments and its interesting to see what has festered since. Certain elements have sunk in and cemented themselves whilst we let them ‘sit’ over the weekend, but like fat rising to the surface, certain things feel a little off. We scrape off those unwanted vestibules and try out other options - different objectives, tactics or physical movements. Sound designer Rick drops by mid-afternoon and we spend a couple of hours working the transitions between scenes - trying out different songs. We’ve discovered that its helpful to imagine most scenes as a ‘bubble’ that Lisa observes with the audience, before a physical gestures ‘pops’ that moment causing her to relive it, joining the other characters in action. We particularly paid attention to moments towards the end of the play, when rather than observing and ‘popping’ these bubbles - Lisa is dragged into each one by the other characters, to mirror her loss of control as the emotional journey comes to a climax. After all this talk of bubbles, I float out of the rehearsal room straight home to run a luxurious bubble bath. Call it character research…

 

Writer Becky joined us in the room on Tuesday afternoon, so we did a run-through to see how things were shaping up. Beforehand though we had a special delivery - the actual market stall we’ll be using in the show! It looked spectacular and it wasn’t long before the cast got their grubby mitts on it - playing and interacting with the various paraphernalia (and haggling over what items could be purchased for personal use after the run of the show… ahem, Sarah)! For the duration of the morning we worked on transitioning between the different scenes and moments in the play - laying the groundwork for our run-through in the afternoon. Although this served to fry my tiny brain (it doesn’t take much in fairness), it was great to finally put the scripts down and complete our characters’ journeys in situ. For me, it highlighted which scenes I need to brush up on in terms of the accuracy of my lines and also where the ‘sticky spots’ where - this wasn’t where I’d dropped my iced finger at lunch, but rather when I didn’t know what scene proceeded the next. No bubble bath that night then - off home I trundled to look at working out the links and triggers that propel me from one scene into the next.

 

My self-inflicted homework proved useful come Wednesday, as we again worked through scene transitions and links - rejoined by sound designer Rick, who made tweaks as we went along. I had spent the previous evening plotting Lisa’s emotional journey to remind myself of our work last week and created a colour-coded ‘crib’ sheet (or ‘cheat sheet’ I suppose) - writing down the beginning and end lines for each scene. It turns out I’m not the only one with this idea, as Liz had created a similar document to distribute to our ensemble from the local community, enabling them to follow cue lines or music and who was in what scene and when. When our supporting cast arrived in the evening, we all changed into our costumes and ran through the pop-up moments to refresh ourselves before performing a run-through of the play; with key props, set and music in place to give the best indication of what conditions would be like for the actual performance. This would be the last chance for us to run the play all together before technical rehearsals on Sunday. Someone sound the violins!

 

 

 

Thursday bounced round quicker than I anticipated and we spent the morning reflecting upon the previous evening’s run-through before reworking certain moments in more detail - particularly focusing on what we want Len’s stall to do. This meant exploring what physically happens in each scene and what interaction our characters have with the market stall, so that designer Katie could adapt the stall accordingly. Stage manager Steph had her work cut-out, as we found we needed quite a few items to be pre-set in a particular way in order to ensure the action of each scene flowed. Luckily the team breezed through this task in time for lunch (of course, nothing would stand in the way of another ham barm) and upon our return in the afternoon we were joined by Sarah Punshon, artistic director of The Dukes theatre in Lancaster - who, as a mid-scale theatre, are supporting Junction 8 with our inaugural production. She watched our run-through in the afternoon before our company reconvened over (what else) a brew to discuss today’s progress. After this run-through I felt more in control of Lisa’s journey… its now embedded more in my muscle memory so i’m not grappling to find what scene comes next. It was nice to find new things in the scenes; by adding some physical activity - such as pouring a brew and setting up the stall - I found there was time to breath and really work on tactics so that my character could achieve their want or ‘goal’ from the other person in the scene. Liz gave us some ‘notes’ (sadly not the post-it kind) but things we should consider or reflect upon moving forward; some of these were specific, whilst others were more general - for instance, we were all asked to consider our immediate given circumstances before each scene in order to establish the tone (who, what, where, when, why). Personally, I need to work on taking my time with the direct audience address and not crashing through at a pace that leaves the audience behind - I need to take them with me on my journey.

 

Friday kicked off with a bit of glitz and glamour - well as much as we could muster for that time in a morning - with an interview with That’s Lancashire; who filmed us as we rehearsed a few scenes and questioned us about the process behind the show. Recovering with (what else) a cuppa, we then reflected on the previous day’s run-through and worked on a couple of scenes to sharpen up certain details. Based upon feedback from our previous run-through, when joined by writer Becky that afternoon, the decision was made to try our next run of the performance without the actors’ pop-up characters, whilst retaining the pop-up moments from the community ensemble. It was felt these diluted Lisa’s story a little; the actors weren’t fully multi-rolling (playing several characters), as they were only playing one other character - and as we jump about in time, it may have jumbled the sense of the story, suggesting we were seeing different versions of the ‘main characters’ the actors play. Moving forward we restructured the sequence of the play to exclude these actor pop-up moments, which also gave the actors the opportunity to focus solely on one character, rather than splitting their energies. This is part of the joy of new writing; its a really collaborative process open to experimentation and play - Becky is so open to ideas and its great to have the freedom to try what works and what doesn’t. As the week drew to a close, Becky made a few alterations and tweaks to the script to fully flesh out its new form and Liz gave us all a few notes to consider over the weekend. The coming days will be chaotic and fragmented as we move into technical rehearsal - implementing all our work in the performance space on the market with full production values (lighting, costume, sound etc). At times it may feel we’re moving away from all the work we’ve done in rehearsals, but such is the nature of the beast. Night drew its cloak upon us and a few of our number ventured to Chorley Live - handing out leaflets and making contact with people to spread word about the show. Who ended up in Applejax at the end of the evening? A lady would never divulge… 

 

To watch our interview with ‘That’s Lancashire’ head here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFt0ZbLCmgE&app=desktop 

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