Here's Lauren's report on week 6 of rehearsals, the final week in the Lyceum Theatre rehearsal room before moving to the Crucible Studio Theatre for production week. A week of some quite big decisions and changes.
Rehearsal Blog 9: When the World Became Very Big, and Then Very Small
So, the last week of rehearsals. Perhaps not perfect timing for a complete redesign of the show, but a feeling that it was necessary seemed to be shared by the group. Rachael suggested a new running order, and that the 'playing space' should be changed to be very wide and shallow. Props and furniture were scattered across the stage, each piece having one function but not being moved once its used. This forces the performers to move about and create 'business', making it more visually interesting for the audience.
Chris also suggested the idea of literally tracking the journey of the stories; for example the first two stories in the show are from Singapore and Liberia, so they could describe how you would make that journey in real life (since it was me that did the research I can tell you it involves three international airports and bribing a helicopter pilot).
The 'Massacre' section includes material that has remained virtually the same since the performance at Forge almost six months ago, plus a new lengthy text, but it was finally decided that it needed to be shortened. This was a running theme for all the texts that remain in the show, with most of the texts being tightened up, both to shorten the running time, and to improve the flow and dynamism of what remained. For the same reason, some changes were made to who performed the texts, also to ensure that no one performer dominated certain sections of the show.
Rehearsals continued in this vein, but something still didn't feel quite right...so on Wednesday there was another development in terms of the staging, with the playing area reduced to a more intimate size. This obviously had implications for what the set looked like and how the performers interacted. Rachael had invited Julie Horan to work for a couple of days on the art direction, and between her and the group, a domestic feel to the staging began to emerge. The stage now read as a living room that the performers lived in, so this meant that it made more sense for them to tell the stories as much to each other, as 'out' to the audience.
A run-through on this basis with an audience of a few invited guests was performed on Thursday evening, which threw up some interesting points for the performers to consider, including the reading by some of the audience that Alex and Jorge are Chris' imaginary housemates.One problem that needed solving at the end of the week was defining Chris' role; due to the nature of his texts, it wasn't clear if he was purely a commentator or a fellow storyteller aswell. Since neither the text or the set configuration was final until we moved into the Studio the next week, it was difficult to decide. Hopefully with a new venue and a new set, it would be one of those problems to which the solution would emerge in the space.