Photograph 51 | Rehearsal Diary
Photograph 51– Week Three
The Act of Listening
The pace of things has stepped up a gear again this week. As the actors grow in confidence with their lines and the journeys of their characters, we explore the play once more in detail, refining the arc of each scene. As a result, the textual choices we are making are becoming increasingly clear. Anna’s writing has a very specific rhythm and, as such, has started to take on a new, more lyrical quality. In terms of blocking, however, it’s significant that the actors’ natural movements in the first week have informed so many of the staging choices we are now settling upon. This was a bit of a revelation to us all: that the collective instinct can show us so much about the story we’re trying to tell.
In parallel, the understudy rehearsals are in full swing. Our three actors – Lorna Stuart, Patrick Walshe McBride and William Troughton – are covering all six parts between them, so they have various characters to get to know and inhabit before we reach technical rehearsals in two weeks’ time. This is a key feature of rehearsals: in the unlikely event of one of the principal cast not being able to go on, their respective understudy will be ready to step into the breach. The process is the same as for Michael’s main rehearsals, but reduced in time, since they rehearse at the end of each working day and will need to be fully prepared by the time of our first performance.
Now that we have started to run consecutive scenes together, the cast are able to really listen to and engage with each other through the play’s ninety-minute running time. This is essential if we are to create a cohesive ensemble for the piece. The act of listening has been emphasised in more ways than one with the company’s visit to the Noël Coward on Monday. Each of the actors had an opportunity to test their projection onstage in the larger (and rather more beautiful) room in which they will be performing.
Putting on a play involves much more than simply rehearsing it. There are a vast array of people associated with this production, all of whom have been working tirelessly behind the scenes, whether it be in pursuit of set, sound, lighting, voice and dialect, costumes, wigs, or press and marketing. On that note, we’ve just finished editing our programme for the show and Michael, Nicole Kidman and Stephen Campbell Moore have been called for various interviews or photo-shoots to publicise the production to as diverse an audience as possible. Finally, across the Atlantic, Anna Ziegler is preparing to send the latest draft of the script for publication.