No longer can we cocoon ourselves safely in the warm belly of the rehearsal room; our time has finally come - to the market! Sunday may traditionally be a day of rest but not for our likely lads, as from an unholy hour, the crew and a team of volunteers descend upon the closed ranks of Chorley market to set up shop - assembling the set, co-ordinating 'backstage areas' and rigging lighting and sound. It's a mammoth task, one mercifully that I escape from. As an actor, 'technical rehearsals' are exactly that - an opportunity for the technical crew to rehearse their roles during the lead up to, during and after each performance; as such, my role on Sunday is to not get in the way, to walk to the right places at the right time and say the right lines. The idea is to go from cue-to-cue; skipping the action of the scenes until we get to a technical moment involving a cue for lighting, sound or stage management - for instance an actor entering the performance space or music playing. Before we know it, the evening cloaks us in her darkened hood and we have to pack down all the equipment that's been set up. Everyone mucks in here - supporting actors from our ensemble, volunteers, crew and production team. It's almost as if we were never here... Almost!
Monday is a continuation of technical rehearsals; after a game of 'King John' wherein we also managed to rope producer Nick into our midst, we performed another full run of the show - this time without any set, props or costume, so completely stripped back. Afterwards we gathered, clutching our post-show brews to reflect on our work - possibly the last opportunity we'll get before the open dress rehearsal for the market traders. We agreed a few moments and transitions needed reconsidering in light of both this morning and last night's q-to-q, which we later ironed out during the evening's technical rehearsal. Us actors always get an easy job of it and whilst we had a couple of hours to ourselves, the rest of the creative team had a production meeting to finalise logistical aspects of the show and put plans into place for the evening. Speaking of which - we had a bit more glitz and glamour; Granada Reports came at tea time to interview the team and film some of our technical rehearsals. Showbiz ey kids? Once the camera's had left, we cracked on with getting this show on the road - running the entire play from start to end with our supporting cast, lighting, sound, props... The whole shebang! Just not the actual scenes - again we jumped from cue to cue, to ensure everybody was happy with the technical aspects of the show. Technical rehearsal - check!
Rewarded with a lie-in (for us flighty actors anywho), we toppled into Tuesday afternoon with a full company meeting before our open dress rehearsal in the evening - whereby the market traders were invited to see our work... No pressure there then! What a first audience to have - they were so invested in the story and really bolstered our performance. We also had a photographer taking some production shots. It all seemed to go down a treat and later in the week myself and Sarah were rewarded with a beautiful gift from Anise - can't have faired too badly then! No time to rest on our laurels though, as we spent Wednesday reworking certain transitions in the play and refining a couple of scenes. We had a few technical hiccups during the dress rehearsal, as is usually the case with these things, so Liz spent the morning going through notes with the production team to rectify these issues. Before we knew it, it was opening night, so it was all hands on deck as cast, ensemble and crew prepared the playing area - assembling tables, chairs, tablecloths and blankets to make sure everything was ready for the audience. The production team set up the various equipment and set, whilst the cast got into costume and warmed up ready for the show. It came and went in the blink of an eye - before we knew it, we were carefully packing everything away again.
Thursday was 'press night' - traditionally this is when members of the press come to watch the show and review it, and although we had a lovely turnout from the industry, nobody would come to review the show - disappointing yes, but it didn't dampen our spirits. Neither did the rain - which hailed down with some enthusiasm intermittently during the show. Luckily we were equipped with radio microphones, which were turned on during an early deluge! It was a lovely reception again and as a reward, the next day the cast were only called at 6pm to discuss some notes, before launching into another performance. Generally, from now, unless there's something major we need to reconfigure, this will be our standard call time to give enough time to prepare for an 8pm show. Friday's show was completely sold out - huzzah! So if you're planning on watching the show, book your tickets now whilst you still can. Hopefully we'll see you there - come and say hello!
Watch our piece on ITV Granada here: http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2017-10-11/watch-theatre-company-debut-show-in-chorley-market/