| Rehearsal Diary

Week One

Associate Director Tara Robinson provides a week-by-week summary of rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Our first week was a varied, creative and thrilling one. Ideas for how the production will look, sound and feel have been buzzing around the room and the practical application for those thoughts is emerging in a sketch form.

Our first day brought our huge company together for a ‘Meet and Greet’. A cast of seventeen made up only a fraction of the team who will bring this piece to the Noel Coward Theatre. Most of the creatives have associates – assistants who can share the load and step into the role if required later on – and there’s also a team of worker bees behind the scenes producing, promoting and managing the production.

Our director, Michael Grandage, and designer, Christopher Oram, introduced the design and inspirations for our approach to this play written over four hundred years ago. The discussion of how to make magic and fairies feel relatable to our experiences in 2013 was tackled and continued to be interrogated throughout the week.

Many companies begin the rehearsal process with a readthrough of the play on the first day, with all the team assembled. Michael doesn’t, preferring to avoid the nervous presentation of what might be to come, getting straight into working on the play privately with the actors instead.

theatre rehearsals in a rehearsal room
A Midsummer Night’s Dream rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

We began at the beginning. Our working version of the script has scenes determined by the Creative Team, which combine some of Shakespeare’s scenes, and all those involved in the first scene began by reading it briefly before talking it through, line-by-line, for basic meaning. To help us in this we had Text Consultant, Russell Jackson, on hand. All interpretations of the playing of the story were left open and as soon as meaning was established, the actors jumped on their feet and sketched out a rough shape for where the scene might take place on the stage. This pattern was repeated chronologically for all the scenes and was playful and energised – a good start to the journey!

Friday and Saturday saw the arrival of our Movement Director, Ben Wright, who brought in new qualities for the Fairies and taught the first of our pieces of choreography.