Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Day four in the school house

I woke up this morning to find the whole of Sevenoaks wrapped in a heavy autumnal mist. You could tell that the sun was dying to burst through but that it was somehow just taking a few more minutes than normal to get its act together. This morning, I suddenly knew how it felt! On Saturday, I was eating my breakfast at 8am on the dot. This morning I was leaving the boarding house at 8am, wondering if I'd make it through this punishing week without falling asleep at the wheel. God knows how Hannah feels. She's the only one of us who can't actually leave the rehearsal space. I spoke to her yesterday and she's bearing up incredibly well. She said her only issue is that there's no time to not know the answer to questions. In a four week rehearsal period, a creative team can park ideas and come back to them. They can experiment wildly and then scrap ideas that don't work. We have to get them right first time.

Working with the cast continues to be an extraordinary experience. Nathan asked me on the phone last night who I was enjoying working with the most, and I wasn't able to offer just one name. I listed about ten names before Nathan said, "so everyone then?" I am thoroughly enjoying watching them peeling back the layers and becoming the sort of cast that any professional producer would kill for. Hannah says she actively looks forward to getting in in the mornings. I feel the same.

The youngest member of the cast, Spin, is only just sixteen. He's playing the role of Morrie, who is based on a real life Leeds Pal who signed up at the age of fourteen. For such a young performer, he has extreme maturity. He takes notes like a pro and is a offering up a heartbreaking performance.

I was tough on young Callum yesterday, who has the capacity to be so so good if only he'd knuckle down and start trusting his ability to be wonderful without defaulting to silly schtick.

We worked very hard yesterday and got all the way up to Billy Whistle, which felt like an old friend when it arrived. There's something rather special about rehearsing a show which already exists. People have their favourite songs and a clear sense of the nature of the beast we're aiming for. There isn't the feeling of panic within the cast which I'm pretty sure existed two years ago. Everything feels controlled. The mighty beast is moving inexorably forward.

I've spent a lot of this rehearsal process simply feeling really proud. Proud to have written the piece. Proud to hear different people all over the building playing and singing music which I've written.

The girls have started learning brass instruments which they have to play (badly) in the show, which means, periodically, from the upper windows of the building we're rehearsing in, we hear these curious strangulated, somewhat farty comic noises. Elsewhere in the building the pit orchestra are now rehearsing, so we're also hearing the most delicious, surging noises breezing through the corridors.

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