| Rehearsal Diary

Week Two

Week two has been productive and fruitful, with everyone settling into the rhythm of rehearsals and getting stuck into a more detailed investigation of character and text.

Our Assistant Stage Manager, Ralph Buchanan, has been surprising us daily with a variety of treats made by his mum, most excitingly homemade ‘Yalla-mallows’ – marshmallow-like sweets that make several appearances in the script. So we have been kept on a steady sugar high all week.

On Wednesday we were visited by Fight Director Brett Yount to consider the various pinches, punches, slaps and fights that occur throughout the play. Even the simplest of actions has to be carefully worked through and choreographed to make sure everyone feels confident and safe. The actors have also had individual voice sessions with Dialect Coach Penny Dyer to ensure everyone is consistent in the rural Irish accent.

theatre rehearsals in a rehearsal room
The Cripple of Inishmaan rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

One character has a tendency to express herself through the throwing of eggs, usually using her brother as a target, and one of the many highlights of this week has been rehearsing these moments with real eggs. With Stage Management armed with plastic sheeting, special ‘egg rehearsal’ clothing and a variety of cleaning products, we ran the scene. 

basket of eggs prop
The Cripple of Inishmaan rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner

Watching eggs being smashed over one character’s head, and seeing him attempt to carry on with the rest of the scene with yolk dripping down his face, had us all in fits of laughter. Then the clean-up operation took place swiftly, before the egg hardened and became impossible to remove. We have a few weeks left in rehearsal to keep practicing, to ensure that once we get into the theatre the set and actor can be de-egged in time for the next scene.

Another highlight was the arrival of a beautiful curragh, an Irish fishing boat with a wooden frame that has been used by the inhabitants of the Aran Islands for hundreds of years, and which is still in use today. It’s huge! So huge, in fact, that in order to get it into the rehearsal room the middle section had to be removed. It’s wonderful to have the real thing to work with and to inform the world of Inishmaan that we’re gradually beginning to build.

interior view of wooden boat
The Cripple of Inishmaan rehearsals. Photo: Marc Brenner