| Rehearsal Diary

Week Four

With our principal returned, the whole company seemed to jump at their characterisation with new fervour this week, which was really exciting for Michael and I. It’s reminded me to trust the process of allowing actors to delve over time, and in doing so find their own voice and direction. Areas which I had worried about last week suddenly had clarity, without any interference, as is to be expected when working with such high-calibre actors.

At this stage, as the actors are becoming comfortable with their decisions, Michael has encouraged them to question certain choices, especially approaches to language – particular leanings on specific words or ironic delivery – and undo them, to see how that might change a dynamic or keep the original choice fresh. With all of these challenges, the opportunity to return to the original choice has not been taken away, but the request is to try and inhabit a new one – to find the previous one anew when we move towards previews after next week’s runs.

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

It’s also meant a drastic reduction in gags within the Mechanicals’ scenes. The scenes themselves contain gags, but naturally our company have coloured them, adding in extra ‘business’, which has now been stripped back to maintain a truthfulness to the story and energy of the scenes. They may return, but it has been an interesting process, and I suspect a challenging one for some of the actors, who both enjoyed generating their comic material and playing with it. The overall clarity of the scenes has been improved, though, and I’m interested to see whether Michael will still encourage playfulness outside the text as we move into week five, when we begin running the play.

Our understudy rehearsals have delved into the characters with a little more detail, and the perpetual fine line between making the role the understudy’s own and remaining true to the choices made by the company has been discussed daily.