“I thought I’d never get through it!”
…an astonished Olga exclaims in Act One of Three Sisters. And as we approach the final week of The Faction’s Rep 2013 it is a line that I can deliver whole-heartedly using my experience of being in this wonderful company of theatre makers for the past three and a bit months!
There is nothing negative in this statement. It is quite simply an expression of amazement that my mind, body & spirit have made it through this mammoth undertaking! When I rolled up for rehearsal on 26th November (in fact before that when I received my casting and started learning my lines) I felt a little like I was standing at the foot of a mountain and now we are nearly through the clouds and the summit is almost within our grasp.
All a little dramatic isn’t it? Well, yes, I am rather prone to the the dramatic, it being my profession! But it’s true. It has been a long, sweaty, delicious slog and every second has been worth it! The three phases of the process each presented their own challenges and required their own navigation. Which now we are nearly through it I can look back and take stock of.
We started in November attacking each of the texts in turn. In the bowels of The Bridewell Institute we got to work pulling apart these texts and starting to outline their worlds. Our mornings were spent in the politics of Genoa as we pulled apart and pieced together our version of Schiller’s Fiesco, whilst our afternoons were embroiled in the psychology of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Not forgetting Fridays which were submerged in Gareth Jandrell’s brand new adaptation of Blood Wedding. Each rehearsal room had it’s own texture and each presented it’s own challenges. For me, Fiesco was a space where I had to challenge my own physical boundaries – free dance and animal studies pushing me through and beyond my personal blocks. Whilst Three Sisters revisited some of the acting exercises and improvisation methods I hadn’t touched on since drama school – scary, revealing stuff! Blood Wedding also presented moments requiring bravery, confrontational scenes and beautiful songs that begged me to allow myself to vulnerable required a strong backbone at times. In my mind no rehearsal period worth its salt goes by without a few tears, a few boundaries being broken and a whole lot of laughter!
Openings, Rehearsals & Reviews
A new year, a new home. With that pesky midwinter festival out of the way we moved into our new home: The New Diorama. These three productions in the rep bring me up to nine plays I’ve performed in at The New Diorama, so it feels like a second home to me and it always feels great to be back. We opened Fiesco on 5th January and, as ever, it felt as if we worked to the wire before opening night. The brilliant/mad thing about rep is that the next morning we were straight back into the theatre preparing to open Three Sisters the following week. And as soon as that was open it was head-first into full-time Blood Wedding rehearsals. The biggest challenges in this phase? Getting enough sleep, finding clean clothes from somewhere in the depths of your bedroom floor, remembering to feed the cat, taking time to go to the loo, remembering to breathe…you think I’m joking? I’m not. When you’re performing in the evenings and rehearsing 6 days a week ‘life’ takes a back seat. On top of all this you have reviews drip, drip, dripping in. Whether they are glowing (as nearly all of ours were, of course!) or less than so they can chip, chip, chip away at your confidence or pump, pump, pump up your ego. Neither are really helpful, so the best advice is to avoid them altogether…though it took me a couple of weeks to work that out! I feel so much better since I stopped reading them and just enjoyed the work!
So all three shows are open. What now? What do you do with your days? How do you speak to people who aren’t the sixteen people you’ve spent every waking hour with for the last two months? Big issues! Of course we are still performing in the evenings and with the shows being in rep it requires a bit of a brain shift & a group warm-up before each show to reacquaint ourselves with the show we are about to perform. But for me the lack of rehearsal presents a gaping hole, which last year during Rep 2012 I struggled to fill. So this year I have committed myself to thirty consecutive days of Bikram yoga and rather a lot of writing for my ‘resting’ job (I run a health blog for my shop http://dandeliononline.co.uk/
) it has filled the gap and eased the separation anxiety from my cast whilst getting me fit and keeping my mind focused – I highly recommend it as a course for sanity!
So here we are with just a week left. Heading to the theatre each night to perform a different play with a cast and creative team I adore is an absolute joy. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. As we head towards the summit I can appreciate Olga’s sentiments when she says “I thought I’d never get through it” but to expand on that I’d say: “I can’t wait to go through it all over again!”.