Henry V Rehearsals Day 12

Its day 12 troops and we are staging our scenes. The Dora the explorer pink ball came back in all her glory to challenge our comrades. We were better than last week, having 50 as our minimum, but we weren’t able to get past 57. The challenge continues. Some of the actors (or actresses? Will get back to this in a jiffy) were in full costume today, oh how thrilling! Its very exciting now that we can see the play coming together and a polished product starting to emerge. Now what do you suppose our costume is? Lavish robes and jewels or  contemporary LK Bennet/Kate Middleton style dresses and hi tech army gear? Its neither. We have gone for a really unusual and controversial – hang on, this is only the blog, I can’t give everything away!
People keep asking me how, what and why an all female cast? Well there isn’t a strap line to answer these questions but what I can say is that it has been fascinating approaching the play from the female point of view. It has highlighted many factors and issues within the play that may not have been explored as much in traditional productions which has changed how we present the play to you. War is always portrayed as male dominated so how would women deal with the same situations? There have been a lot of questions asked during the process, specially as the cast is 100% female, and hopefully we can share our curiosities with you. In short, you really have to come yourselves with an open mind and see what you understand and receive from the play.
We do have a few treats for you at the beginning of the play (well, throughout the whole play too but there is an extra special one in the beginning) and an element of ‘Where’s the King’ going on. We were talking about the sound scape today and there are a lot of “BANGS” and “Zshooms” appearing which made for a interesting rehearsal report. Just to get your brains slightly buzzed I’m going to tell you we have a few fancy lights and torches, fancy squares that light up, fancy food (perhaps tuna sandwiches) and somewhat  unfancy costumes.
Before I finish my log for today I want to ask you on your opinion regarding the actor/actress debate? I have been using a mix (partly because I’m lazy and there are too many S’s in actresses to spell quickly) but which term do you think a female performer should use? Some people find the word ‘actress’ degrading or question why there should be a difference between a male and female theatrical performer. Surely we are all just performers so why the need to differentiate? I personally do differentiate and love the term actress. I feel there is a certain strength to it and think of the greats when I use it. Leave your comments below as I would love to hear some opinions about this.
Au revoir mes soldates anglais

Today began with a rather more relaxed warm up, focusing on our breathing and trying to shut out all of those bodily niggles, aches and distractions of thought. The perfect way to relieve the stress and tension of a cold and wet journey to rehearsals filled with delayed trains and crumpling into cramped carriages like a pack of sardines.

Firstly we discussed the ideas and questions that Ricky and the group had come up with regarding the staging of the play over the past couple of weeks. We discussed what type of shapes the play lent itself to, the texture of the walls and floor in particular scenes, what temperature the space was and whether it was an ‘outdoors’ or ‘indoors’ play.

Many of the decisions about the play have arrived naturally through rehearsals and some have been completely different to what was first expected. Before we put the play up on it’s feet, the play felt very muddy and messy, there were ideas of red paper filling up the stage and earth and confusion. However, in rehearsals there evolved this clinical like feeling, it was clean and straight forward, harsh and exposing. The set became very simple but effective and used in all manner of ways to reflect the decisions, indecisions, chaos and calm, while pointing subtly to the focus of the scene.

The play originally felt quite ‘outdoorsy’ but rather quickly, the space became boardrooms and control centres, battle stations and air hangars and before we knew it most of the play was set inside.

Now comes the dilemma of wanting to share the final week’s rehearsal process with you, but also wanting to keep certain elements of our production a delicious surprise when you come and see the play! All I will say is be prepared to pull your sleeves up and do your bit for King and Country, a blast from Henry’s past comes back to haunt her, and  two hungry Bishops discuss a very important Bill, urged by the House of Commons, that must not be passed at any cost. But what will that cost be? Could their decisions plunge England into war or will it take much more than the Church to rouse the doubtful and considered Henry to War?

You shall have to wait and see!

L.G (7 days till P-Day…)


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