Merchant of Venice Rehearsals Day 14

This time next week we will have had both our previews and our press night. The production will have altered and developed, the cast will be more confident and we’ll be gauging responses from our first audiences. Having previews is a real luxury – a chance to perform whilst still a work-in-progress, with an acknowledgment that that is the case. This is the first show I’ve worked on that has previewed, although not the first show where we’ve wished we had them!
We’re one small step away from finising our staging of the play – or at least, this first level of staging the play. As we perform we’ll progress, making additions here and there, perhaps being braver in our choices. This week has partly been about keeping the space open. The theatre is intimate and so there is a tendency to stay close to fellow actors, thus blocking out the audience and one another. Maintaining a distance between actors opens out the space, and makes the action more inclusive. We’ve also explored pulling out the text – finding the meaning in every line and making that carry. Ricky is a real stickler for punctuation. As he said, it doesn’t matter that Shakespeare didn’t write all the commas, semi-colons and full stops that we’re using, the fact is that they are there now and they are helpful. Punctuation also really helps with breathing, with is always useful! What I would love to do is keep a tally of how many times we use the word ‘audience’ in rehearsals. A play is for “them”, for you reading this. One of my science teachers favourite sayings used to be: ‘I’m not doing this for the benefit of my health’, and it’s true here. We’re exploring this play for an audience to watch and take delight in, be moved by, be entertained, be forced to think, to understand. Yes it is a fantastic opportunity for the cast and creative team, but if the audience don’t get why we’ve done what we have, you could say we failed. I always prefer theatre that has some kind of purpose, where the director or cast member can explain why a choice was made. One of our aims is that you will be able to do that, if it isn’t clear to you. So when you come to the Jack Studio, do talk to us, let us know what you thought, even if there’s a moment that is confusing or puzzling for you. Especially if there’s a moment that is confusing or puzzling for you! And extra especially if you come to a preview, then we would particularly love to know your thoughts!

N P

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