| Rehearsal Diary

Week Six

We’ve now officially finished our rehearsal period. It’s amazing how quickly this moment has come, despite having started back in August. Thinking back to the read through on the first day makes me realise just how much has been achieved over the past six weeks.
This week was a unique experience for the team as we were rehearsing on stage at the Noel Coward Theatre with our set fully in place. This is because we were working with an extended schedule and it was a real luxury for us to have this time in the theatre. Jeremy was very clear from the start that this week should be about rehearsing and that we shouldn’t be tempted to get technical at any point.

view of audience seating from stage
Labour of Love technical rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

The first day was rather overwhelming: you suddenly go from a contained rehearsal room to a huge auditorium with all those empty seats, which very soon will be filled with people coming to enjoy an evening’s entertainment. After an inevitable period of adjustment it was brilliant to be in the actual space. We became even more specific about the staging, especially as Jeremy was able to get a perspective from the back of the stalls and circles.

man standing
Labour of Love technical rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

The Noel Coward is a beautiful old Victorian theatre with a wonderful proscenium arch, balcony boxes and a steep, four-tiered auditorium. These buildings have such a sense of history, which you can’t help but feel everywhere you go – the walls are covered with posters of legendary productions starring some of our theatre greats. It’s so exciting to be the latest tenants here!
Even though we weren’t focusing on anything technical, naturally the cast started to adjust to their new environment, especially the scale of it. It takes extra voice muscle to fill such a vast space and the performances began to size-up to meet the auditorium. Actors often have to squeeze this process into the technical rehearsals, so it’s great they’ve had this week to begin to adapt – it’s such a skill to preserve the authenticity of the characters and their relationships whilst technically engaging the voice to ensure 800-plus audience members can hear.

view of tech desk with stage behind
Labour of Love technical rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

This week was all about the final work on scenes, working towards our first run through on Friday. It went really well. Of course we have work to do – we always do – but it’s at exactly this point we begin to really need an audience. In many ways, it’s when we put the piece in front of them that we learn the most.

clothes rail with hangers dated 1994, 2001, 2011, 2017
Behind the scenes on Labour of Love. Photo: Marc Brenner

We also had a rehearsal call on Saturday, which was put aside for us to practice the transitions and quick costume changes with the cast, crew and dressers. We could have saved this for the technical rehearsals but thought it would put us in a really good position if we had a chance to run it all before then. Some of the changes are huge and incredibly fast, which will hopefully be exhilarating for an audience, and backstage it’s like a military operation: dressers stand waiting in the quick-change booths brandishing shirts, shoe horns, combs, etc. It’s like a show in itself to see this  happening – the team work is incredible. And all of it has to be done silently and in the dark!
This time next week we’ll have had our first audiences in. There are those familiar butterflies…