| Rehearsal Diary

Week Four

This week turned out quite differently than expected and the team responded to it with real strength and skill. Very sadly Sarah Lancashire had to withdraw from the production following medical advice, which was a shock but obviously her health must come first and the whole team wished her all the best.

two actors
Labour of Love rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

A busy few days followed as we tried to find an actor to come in and step up to this challenge… Brilliantly we now have the incredible Tamsin Greig on board and we feel very lucky indeed to have her. After a brief introduction to the team and a read through it was straight to business! We’ve added an extra week of rehearsals and delayed our opening night to make sure we have enough time to prepare.

Jeremy thought the best plan was to use this week to sketch the entire show so that the cast had a more cohesive overview, and so that Tamsin could get to grips with the shape as soon as possible. Obviously we’ve been with the play for a while now and what was exciting was that Jeremy was able to be really detailed and specific about the staging, working at speed, which meant we were moving through the scenes solidly and building momentum all the time. Structurally it’s incredibly useful for everyone to keep moving through the material and to keep thinking of the scope of the passing of 27 years.

two actors and flipchart easel
Labour of Love rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

Having a new person in the room also gave us another perspective from which to interrogate the text, and having James Graham with us throughout the process is simply brilliant. He can make slight edits, help us with context, or even respond to something that’s happened spontaneously and turn it into something that can be used in the play. This environment of openness and generosity is incredibly useful and encourages risk-taking and play.

We’re having so much fun in rehearsals and this translates to the relationships on stage, which fits the world of the play. There’s so much humour in it but it’s all held together by huge heart, pain and real-life difficulties, which I think we can all relate to in some way. The characters are so finely drawn on the page and the cast are bringing their skill and humanity to make them real, vivid people that we see in triumph and difficulty. It’s a joy.

actor laughing
Labour of Love rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

We also had a visit from Gloria De Piero, the current MP of Ashfield, where the play is set, which was absolutely fascinating. Her passion for the constituency and its people was obvious and clearly drives and motivates her to do what is undoubtedly a very difficult job. She talked with warmth, humility and honesty, referring to times she feels she didn’t predict what was coming, as well as achievements she’s proud of. It was brilliant to add to our knowledge of the constituency itself – the more we know, the more we can play. We also ended up in the Mansfield Chad, a local paper referenced in the play, which we’re delighted about!

A busy but positive week with a lot done, and a lot left to do…