Henry V Rehearsal photo taken by Adam Trigg
Waterloo East Theatre 11th to 29th November, 2014.
Tag Archives: Waterloo East Theatre
Henry V Rehearsal photo taken by Adam Trigg
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…)
It’s Monday 3rd November. You know what that means don’t you? The final countdown to P-Day!(Performance Day for those of you who haven’t seen my previous blog)
Frills and frocks have been cast off as the Lazarus soldiers file in from the harsh outdoors to the warmth of the barracks. There are no stray strands of hair and rouge in sight but instead, a sea of slicked back hair in tight buns, big solid boots and oversized and unfitting war clothes. The preparation for battle has begun.
To create the level of focus needed for this week, we played some intense focus games to get us back into the swing of rehearsals. These usually involve lots of balls of different sizes and weights being thrown at us. (No this isn’t a painful drilling exercise thank goodness!). In fact it requires so much generosity and communication between those involved; eye contact, receiving and throwing the ball accurately, indicating you are ready or not ready and ultimately keeping calm and confident when you have about eight balls being thrown across the same space. It sounds ridiculously easy but even when you think you are giving everything you can, the ball drops and everyone panics and you have to give more and work harder to get the rhythm back, exactly the same as if you are on stage.
Dora the explorer came back to haunt us again with Keepy-Uppy’s. Except this time she was pulling no punches and told us with a cruel cackle (through the medium of Ricky) that we all had to touch the ball at least once, keeping it in the air while hitting it towards the wall, then bouncing it onto the wall and back towards the other end of the room so it lands in a big box. Easy right? Oh we were the most awful rabble and had adopted such a strange spazzing like motion when the ball came to us that Colette, using her kingly leadership tactics in a very diplomatic way, told us that we were rubbish and if we wanted to do better we needed to pull our socks up. So that was the end of that. Also in our defence I must mention that out PB has gone from a dismal 30 odd to around 70 (give or take ten).
So now we were all ready and raring to go!! We then worked through to the end of the play, including one of my favourite scenes where Henry releases her frustration regarding the crushing burdens and responsibilities that are laid heavily ‘upon the king’. She questions the ceremony and ‘pomp’ of being a monarch and, on her own and far removed from her soldiers we get to see the the rust, the splinters, the questions, the poisoned chalice that is at first obscured beneath the gold, the gilt and the glittering jewels.
We were trying to decide where on earth Henry would actually be able to go, in order to stay close enough to camp but unheard and able to have a moment to herself. Naturally, being the intellectual geniuses that we are, the Toilets were a favourite choice, with Henry in one cubicle and Gloucester and Westmoreland either side patiently waiting for her to finish, knocking on the wall and perhaps asking for loo roll… I’m not sure whether this will stick but it’s all ideas at this stage…
So tomorrow we begin by staging the opening scenes and locking in all of those natural or well thought of ideas that have been slowly solidifying amongst the haze of play.
As your trusty scribe I shall of course let you know how we get on. Have a good rest, we’ve got a coronation to get totomorrow!!
L.G (8 days till P-Day…..)