| Rehearsal Diary

Week Five

We’ve made it to our last week in the rehearsal room – from next week we’ll be working on stage in the theatre. That knowledge makes everything feel a bit more real and you can sense the whole team shift up a gear as we come closer and closer to meeting an audience. Rehearsals necessarily close the focus down to a small group of people as we figure things out in a safe environment, but at this stage our collective consciousness begins to widen again to what it is we’re doing and who we’re doing it for.
Practically this means moving faster through the material and layering more detail onto the bones we’ve already laid out. Also, as opposed to rehearsing scenes in isolation, we’ve started to run them consecutively. This is when we really get a sense of rhythm and tone, and occasionally we find we need to shift something as it no longer feels right in the context of what came before. For this play in particular, running scenes together means we can explore the movement of time and the changes in the characters much more coherently. The story spans 27 years, which means the cast play an extraordinary range of ages, situations and events against a changing political backdrop. Without revealing too much, the piece plays with time and structure, so this week we’ve rehearsed in year order, as opposed to scene order, to help the cast understand their characters in context: how old they are, what their job is, who they’re with, etc. Our hope is that when we put the play back together we will have sharpened the action and be working in an even more nuanced way.

Whilst we continued work in the rehearsal room, the rest of the Creative Team and Stage Management were busy in the theatre completing our get-in and beginning to ‘dry tech’ the show – this means they do everything they can without the cast actually being present. This includes rigging and plotting the lights, sound and video and working on the set. At the end of main rehearsals each day, I continued with the understudies whilst Jeremy and our Deputy Stage Manager, Fran Redvers-Jones, went to the theatre to work on the transitions between scenes, which are a big part of the show. If we can get a strong version of these plotted before our technical rehearsals begin we’ll be in a really good position to maximise our time in the theatre.

technician in theatre
Labour of Love technical rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

Alongside rehearsals, we’ve also continued to get actors into costume fittings as costumes will play such a big part in telling the story of the piece – there are plenty of changes throughout. Everything is thoroughly considered, from pins on lapels to red socks. Similarly, on the set we’re having real fun with the tiniest of details – such as how a kettle from 1990 compares to one from 2017. Hopefully everyone will spot a different element. When we open we hope that all of the small details, as well as the big ideas, will contribute to a rich experience.

We now have next week to rehearse on stage before doing a short tech and opening for previews. The team will continue to gear up and get match-fit!