Blackbird by David Harrower - heigh-ho, heigh-ho it's off to rehearsals we go
2nd May 2012
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We tend to rehearse two hours, twice a week for our productions.  We have an approximate three month rehearsal period (we may pull in a few extra rehearsals along the way if needed) That means in essence, we get a play together in just over 48 hours!  Now I have seen that on paper - it is scary!

Of course, although a lot of work goes on at the actual rehearsal, a lot of work also goes on outside of those times for the actors - mainly the line learning (and boy do they have a lot to learn in this one.  The fewer the actors the more lines to learn).

So what do we do in those two hours?  We start the process on the first rehearsal by having a read-through of the enitre play. Once that is done, the nitty gritty starts.  The first few weeks are mainly about blocking*   Plays with larger casts, become more about positioning and maneuvering, as having more people on stage, means you have to be much more aware of sight-lines and masking**.  Whilst this process is going on, the actors of course are repeatedly going over scenes and lines and becoming more familiar with the set***. 

Whilst all the blocking is going, we are of course, starting a lot of work on the characters.  Understanding where the people have come from, who they are, what drives them, why they are saying what they are, and what is happening to them in the scenes we are rehearsing, both emotionally and physically.  We stop and discuss certain lines, addressing moods, emotions, intonation and eventually we find the rhythm of the piece.

Then usually about two thirds of the way through rehearsals (if they have gone well), there is that one night, that one defining moment, when for the first time (as a Director) you see the play leap from the page to the stage.  That happened on Monday with our rehearsals.  Suddenly for the most part, I was watching and listening to the scenes, and the characters in front of me were real. 

This is where the most exciting part of my job begins.  Once the actors get their books down**** I get to start, what I call the 'spit and polish'.  Concentrating on the minute details of the play, how a particular word is said, spending time on a 'look' or the length of a pause - really! Some time ago, I once spent a two hour rehearsal, on what was ultimatley a 20 second end of a very important scene - however this was mainly down to the actor not getting it, and thankfully that doesn't happen too often!  These small details are, for me, what truly brings a play to life.

So Holly and Steve get a week off now to fully learn their lines, and our next rehearsal will be the dreaded 'books down' one . . . *rubs hands in delight*.


* technical term for 'where do I stand, walk and enter

** actors standing in front of other actors

*** representation consisting of the scenery and other properties used to identify the location of a theatrical production.

**** lines learned. Security blanket (script) taken away.

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About the Author

The Green Room Productions

Member since: 18th April 2012

Eastbourne based The GRP Theatre Company bringing new and exciting theatre to our our town.

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