Thursday, 29 March 2012

Rehearsal Diary - Moby Dick

I’m late with my blog.  I know.  I am sorry.

That’s sort of the way of things the week before opening night.  Suddenly the best laid plans seem to be moving too slowly or some evil creature from another universe (maybe even an alien mythical great white whale…) seems to be eating up huge chunks of time, but so quietly you’d never know it.  Sneaky.

In the illustrious words of Douglas Adams though DON’T PANIC!  Really.  Things are actually under control and the levels of stress are just indicative of the sort of furious drive to perfection that fuels the best theatre making.  But let me take two minutes over a steaming mug of coffee to bring you up to date.

Last week we were hurtling though the script and figuring out how to make best use of the phenomenal space at the Bierkeller.  The alchemy that is the mix of venue, actors, direction and script began to weave its dark magic and the patchwork of scenes started to develop an intensity and integrity that made them at once exciting and compelling:  In one dream sequence we experience being alone with Captain Ahab, living with the heart and heat of his obsession, feeling the way around its rough, compulsive edges with him; in another we are chortling along with Stubb and Ishmael and the crew, developing in our familiarity with them as they do with one another on this voyage; in a third we chase whales across the ocean and follow the lances, eager for them to hit their mark…

The Bierkeller is a fabulous venue for all the reasons you’ll see next week and beyond (if you aren’t already familiar with it that is) but it is dark and in comparison to the Mediterranean temperatures we are experiencing outside at the moment, it’s a tiny bit chilly.  One of the highlights therefore, of last week was taking the team out on the river to rehearse on one of the Bristol Ferry boats.  The actors had the chance (in addition to receiving their weekly quota of fresh air and light) to practice their sea shanties, rehearse key scenes from the play aboard ship, ask questions of the ferrymen pertaining to knots and nautical navigation and to spend some quiet, reflective time in character contemplating their relationship with the water and with a life aboard ship.  I won’t lie.  It was useful, productive, even.  It was however also damn good fun too.

Which is something nice to reflect on as this week we fret about soundboards and laptops and projectors; when we wonder if it is possible to ever have enough rope and whether we’ll reach the end of the stagger thru before the weekend descends upon us and we hit the tidal surge of tech and dress that awaits us, almost as though it were our destiny…

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Baggy Economics 101

Part of being baggy is being broke.

I am broke this month.  Totally.  This isn’t a plea for donations though.  I’m doing all the things I most want to be doing and in doing them am developing a confidence around my abilities and the rightness of those things.  Sounds kinda smug doesn’t it?  But before you get to feeling all hateful towards me about it, remember, I am still broke.

Economics has interested me for a long time and in the same way some girls have hang ups about the amount of food they eat and what that does to their inner authentic core, how it sullies and damages them, I’ve had a strong belief that the more money you earn the more of your rights to be as and who you are are given up, sacrificed to the great god mammon.

I write this today because I am broke.  Because I am continuing to do the things I believe in despite being broke.  Because in doing those things a tiny shift in my perspective is prickling at the edges of my consciousness, the beginnings possibly of a belief that actually what I do has a value and for that value to be paid out in the pieces of paper that I can then exchange for cake and tea, and train tickets and vodka, and time spent engaging in and with the world might not actually be the equivalent of selling out to the devil. 

But then.  Part of being baggy is being broke.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

DarkStuff - Rehearsal Diary Monday 19th March

It’s hard to believe that it’s really only two weeks ago today that we met, united around the body of that epic beast, the great white whale of Moby Dick….and I have to stop writing for a moment to confess that as I write this I’m having an internal battle about avoiding or using hackney’d seafaring expressions….damnit all.  I’ll use them now and get it over with.

The crewmates all aboard (baring one lost soul who we managed to scoop up out of the brine the next day), we examined our craft the Pequod (aka Bierkeller Theatre) before proceeding in a seamanlike manner on foot to the Grain Barge for the first read through of the script.

With the wind in our sails, the past two weeks voyage have taken us from the shared maps of our lives, through balls of pain, into shapes of ships, discovering the whale in the sound of a saw, via indepth character work, building backgrounds and relationship that give a tacit wholeness to the present moment we find ourselves on the hunt for Moby Dick.  Last week the actors got down to the dirty business of line learning and, freed from the script on key scenes, began to build the bones of their storytelling performance.  The speed at which the piece is forming and unfolding before us is breath-taking and speaks not only to the quality of the script, the direction & the excellent casting but also to the verve and dedicated spirit of all those involved.  Exciting times indeed.

Made moreso by today.  Today is the day we move our rehearsals into the Bierkeller so we really get to play with the story in the place that we’ll be living it and sharing it with you all in a couple of weeks.  This week in general looks set to be another busy one in which we nail down props (not literally obviously, that would be cumbersome and I suspect Bierkeller Alex wouldn’t be too pleased with us), sound & music and costume.  Phew.  Lots to do.  Right m’hearties, I’d better get back to it.