Saturday, 20 August 2016


We're slowly getting there! Yesterday we got up to the beginning of the show's penultimate number. An astonishing amount of kudos has to go to Sam Spencer-Lane who has now choreographed five high-quality dance routines in as many days. The same amount of kudos must go to the cast, who have spent every last minute of their spare time assiduously going over the steps. It's an astounding machine, really. Sam feeds the steps in and the cast process and package them before Sam adds a bit more sheen.

None of the pros I have worked with seem to have this much commitment. Something happens to actors very early in their professional careers where they start to feel a sense of entitlement which seems to slightly override the desire to get a show right. It's almost as though the belief becomes that if it can't be taught and learned within an Equity-structured rehearsal period then it's everyone else's fault. Obviously I would never advocate doing 12 hour rehearsal days with pros, but, that said, there's something very special about an immersive and exhausting rehearsal period. Brass is almost an hour longer than Beyond the Fence, and in eight days of rehearsals I genuinely feel we've achieved more than we did on that show in four whole weeks. Aside from anything else, we're not wasting endless hours doing table readings and arguing about motivation and feminism vs sexuality! Everyone in this space is simply getting on with the task in hand and making wonderful theatre.

The chorus sound in this show is excellent. Alex the MD has done an absolutely fabulous job on the musical side of the show. To compound my joy, the band has already started running the piece and have worked with an almost forensic level of detail. I may even be due for a sitzprobe where I hear all the keyboard patches. That would be new ground!

So yesterday we just kept on working through the show, and by 9pm when we finished, we only had two more numbers to stage. We worked on Emmie's death, which pretty much finished me off. Love and loss in any story telling always gets me. Particularly when I allow myself to think about Nathan.

There were lots of notices at the end of the day. Lots of business. Han and I have a running joke that, if you work in theatre, whenever a director or a playwright delivers any form of motivational speech, a stage manager or a techie will always jump in and kill the mood dead by saying something practical like "can you all make sure you leave your pants in the washing bins provided?" So, after the technical speech, I decided to make another inspirational speech so that everyone could go to bed feeling upbeat. It felt much needed after a day when there had been tears, meltdowns, frustration, a bit of moping and more than a whiff of illness in the cast. I suddenly realised that the cast don't hear when Hannah comes up to me, pretty much constantly, saying, "I think she's brilliant" or "you could put him on a professional stage and he wouldn't look at all out of place."

My little speech went down well and earned me a friendly hug from the lovely Camilla.

I went back to the house and realised that there was a telly in a room we don't usually sit in, so Charlie and I watched the wonderful hockey final in the Olympics and very much enjoyed seeing the women winning gold. I have to say, the pride I've felt to be British as a result of the Olympics has been a proper tonic after the hell of Brexit. I personally believe that the England football team could learn a great deal about penalty shoot outs from the British women. Actually, I don't know why we bother to pay footballers. The England squad does nothing but let us down. It makes a change to watch British sports people in matches, games and finals that they actually have a chance of winning!

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