Practice makes Perfect!

To see our Rehearsal Video Diaries, visit the Our Work page of the blog.

Monday 5th September 2016
With a bonus performance of Base Layer on Saturday, this was the first rehearsal day after the summer holidays. During the day, Lucy and I popped in to Beaumont to pick up the rostra for the set and then met the cast and crew at the Abbey Theatre at 6pm.

Tina, the Theatre Manager at the Abbey, was there to welcome us and sort us out in the space. I had a small discussion with Paul who was helping us out with the technical side of things, and then promptly passed over that conversation to Alex and Joe on the lighting team. The boys then worked very hard with Paul all evening sorting us out with lighting angles etc – in fact they were “the most productive we have been… ever!” according to Joe. So we really appreciate the team we have got there.

As soon as the actors had all arrived, we set to work adjusting the performance for the new configuration. It was lovely to see everyone again and pick up where we left off. There were several giggling fits as we tried to remember how everything had fitted together before. I was very impressed with how everyone had remembered their lines, but fitting that in with the chair duets at the beginning of the piece proved a little challenging! It was a great first rehearsal and we pretty much covered half the piece in the three hours that we had in the space.

Friday 5

Original rehearsals for the opening sequence

Tuesday 6th September 2016
24 hours later, we were back in the studio rehearsing again. Having made it to the half way point (ish) the day before, we spent the rehearsal going over the second half of the performance. Some of the movement sequences took some time to adjust to the new space – having the audience in an L configuration is very different from the spaces we have performed in so far and it makes sight lines a little trickier. Lots of things happen on the diagonal now, and we’ve had to be careful to make sure we still use the whole space.

When we reached the end of the piece, we then went through our ‘chair choreography’. When not on stage the actors sit on chairs within the audience to create a stronger connection between them, so for 8 actors we have 8 spare chairs in the audience. We had to work our way through each person’s journey on stage and work out which chair they needed to be sat in at which point. This actually proved easier than when we were doing the same thing for the Beaumont performance in July because most people have the same chair for the whole production. Now, we have just one more rehearsal which will mostly be focused on the technical side of things before show day on Saturday.

pathways

Plotting walkways for the new space

Our performance day (10th September 2016) is also World Suicide Prevention Day, so we hope that you will be able to help us raise awareness by attending the performance – given that our work is centred around youth mental health difficulties. Tickets are available on the Abbey Theatre’s website and all the money raised will be donated to Young Minds. we hope to see you there.

 

Advertisements

Thursday 21st July

Show Day Number 2!!

Once again, we spent the morning organising ourselves and sorting out the final details for performance. Then, we met the cast and crew at Beaumont at 12:50 (the start of lunchtime there) – it was going to be a very busy day! Having already performed once we had spent the last couple of days altering the blocking for the new space – we changed the audience configuration from end on at Trestle to traverse (on two sides) so that as many people could see the performance as possible.

Over lunchtime, we set up the audience seating and positioned the props; changed into costume and switched on the lights. We had been invited to perform the piece for a third time, during the afternoon at school. It was treated as an open dress rehearsal, with an audience of year 12 and year 10 drama students as well as some staff who couldn’t make it to the evening performance, but myself and the assistant directors were still making notes to give to the actors afterwards. It was fantastic to be able to show the piece to some more people – especially those at the age group which the piece is about.

Due to the new audience configuration, we also had to switch around the cast positions. When not on stage, the actors would now be sitting among the audience so it was very helpful to have a rehearsal with genuine audience members in those seats next to them. The performance went very well and we were so grateful to Beaumont for letting us add an extra one in – the project is about spreading awareness so the more people who see the piece the better!

After the first show we had to get many, many fans into the room to try and cool it down for the next audience. We went outside and went through some final notes on the bench dedicated to Mrs Rowlands just outside our drama studio. I didn’t have very much to say, so soon afterwards we reset the stage for the evening performance and took some food outside for a break. A two show day is a lot of work, but we managed to have a good hour to relax with each other!

At about 5:45pm we went over to the hall to warm up. Most things were focused on concentration and ensemble work to bring the company together for the final time. We had our last game of concentration, adding in as many levels to the game as we could for the last time.

Then it was time to set up Front of House and for the audience to start arriving. Just like last time, I got very nervous at this point but I had some fantastic people on the team with me to stop me getting stressed about anything at all! Thankyou very much to Louisa Brigulio, Elizabeth Barber and Cerys Falvey (as well as my mum and Miss Shepherd) for helping me out!

Finally we reached 7:30pm and it was showtime for the last time. I was so proud watching the cast perform their best yet – they’ve all worked so hard and gave this final audience a stunning performance. Thank you so much to everyone who came to see the performance on Thursday evening – you were a fantastic audience and gave the actors so much to play off. It was such a special performance, and I am so grateful to everyone who helped to create that!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Theatre of Minds has been an amazing year of experiences for us both. We haven’t yet calculated how much money we have raised as a donation to Young Minds, but we have already been blown away by the responses we have had to the piece. This has been a very therapeutic process for me, and I’ve never been more proud to be part of a production. Thankyou all!

Saturday 16th July

Show Day Number 1!!

After a morning of organising things and putting the finishing touches to the event, we met the cast at 12 noon at the Trestle Arts Base for performance number one. The first part of the day was spent sorting out a few minor things that we picked up on in the dress rehearsal. We had to make sure everything was spaced properly on the stage and we ran some of the more complicated sections to make sure they were as secure as possible. It was a couple of hours dedicated to making the actors comfortable with everything they were doing.

We may have also got something stuck up on the ceiling… this turned into quite a team building exercise if I’m honest!

paper on the ceiling

Inventive!!

The crew arrived at about 2pm, and then we spent some time solidifying all of the technical transitions. Some of the sound volumes needed to be adjusted to allow people to speak over the top of them, and we focused on a couple of lighting changes to make the whole thing flow smoothly. Hannah and Ellie were up in the box doing their thing, I was down on the floor shouting up to them at various points and the actors skipped the middle of the scenes and jumped from one end to the other. It was definitely worth doing because it all felt nicely under control by the end.

With rehearsals done for the day, we had to make the theatre space ready for the performance. The exact number of chairs were set out, props positioned, floors swept and dressing rooms filled. We also had to find some black material to cover the glass panels on either side of the stage, because with the stage lights on they act like mirrors and seeing your reflection when on stage is really not ideal! Everyone worked very efficiently together and we were ready in no time!

By now it was about 4:15 pm, so we took an hour and a bit to sit outside and chill before building up to showtime. Pizza was ordered, tracked and eaten; snapchats were sent to try and sell the last few tickets, and then it was time to warm up. Some vocal and physical exercises, and a tongue twister version of the classic Zip Zap Boing made us all very lively, but we managed to calm the room with our favourite concentration game by the time 6:30pm rolled around.

Almost there! The cast went off into the dressing rooms to focus and prepare, and the front of house team set up ready for the audience to arrive. It was very exciting but also very nerve-wracking waiting for the curtain to go up (metaphorically as there wasn’t an actual curtain). We had an audience of 79 after some tickets had been sold on the door, which was fantastic and filled the auditorium to give the actors a brilliant atmosphere to work with.

What an evening it was?! Watching the beginning of the piece I was pretty nervous, but as the actors showed just what they were made of, I began to relax and enjoy watching what we had created. There were some fantastic performances, and all of the cast members really responded to the audience and upped their game from the runs we had done in rehearsal. I was so proud of every single one of them!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos taken by Katie Walton

The response to the piece was better than we ever could have expected. Thank you so much to everyone who came to watch on Saturday night – you were a fantastic audience who supported us from beginning to end. The reach that this project has had is amazing: there were definitely more people in the audience who I didn’t know personally than I imagined, and we are all so grateful that you came out to help us support Young Minds and tell a very important story.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With another performance on Thursday, we are back in rehearsals today in the new space re-configuring the piece for a different audience layout. Everyone seems so fired up after Saturday night. I am so proud of what we are doing for such a good cause, and so grateful that people have been so supportive and engaged with what we are doing. Thank you! xx

Rehearsal Video Diary 2

Preparing for the show:

With our first performance just around the corner Frankie, one of our directors, has been reflecting on the process and the impact that we hope this production will have.

There are just a few tickets left for the first show on Saturday at the Trestle Arts Base, so book yours now so that you don’t miss out! Tickets available under the Base Layer tab of the blog.

Rehearsals: Mid-way report

Today was the ninth day of rehearsals in a row for Base Layer – the cast and crew are all working so hard to get this on its feet! This time last week, we had only just started and gotten just one movement sequence under our belts.

Most of our rehearsals have taken place in the drama studios at Beaumont School. We have been arriving at between 9am and 11am each day and working through until 5 or 6 in the evening. These are quite long days so we had to learn to take substantial breaks and go outside for a while or we would lose our energy and creativity. There has been blood, sweat and tears (all quite literally!) and spending every day with each other has really helped us to bond as a company – something that I think will really come across in the performance next week.

The rehearsal schedule has been pretty complicated – and I tend to update it every couple of days – because not everyone is available all the time (some people still have to go to school everyday!) but we have managed to make it work for us things have pretty much gone to plan. On Monday through to Thursday, we were setting out the whole piece and working on each section in turn. The audience layout is going to be slightly different for the two performances due to the differences in the performance space, so we decided to block everything for the Beaumont show and then change everything for the Trestle show afterwards.

At 3pm on Friday we started our first full run of Base Layer. Joe from the lighting team and the stage manager Hannah were both there to see what we had been working on and to get an idea of their roles in the whole production. I was fully expecting there to be moments that fell apart, because we hadn’t had time to look at many sections more than once, but the cast were so on it! Of course there is still a lot of work to be done, but for a first run through I was so impressed with what we had, and so excited by the way it all fitted together. It was also a nice moment for the cast to see what we had created when they weren’t in the rehearsal room.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was so exciting to see everything coming into place after just one week of rehearsals – I am really enjoying working with this cast and crew (none of whom I have worked with in this context before). Having Katie and Francesca to help out with directing has been a bit of a lifesaver! They have lead rehearsals so that we could do things simultaneously and get through more stuff; written the script for one of the scenes; and given me more energy when they come to things fresh. Everyone on the project brings something unique to the rehearsal room. It is a lovely environment that we are working in, and although we will all be shattered by the end, it will totally be worth it.

Tickets are selling very steadily now for the remaining performance on Saturday 16th July at Trestle Arts Base, so make sure that you book now to come and see the culmination of hours of hard work from all involved. All the money from ticket sales will be donated to Young Minds – the UKs leading youth mental health organisation – so come and help us support a very important cause. Book your tickets here!

First Rehearsals

After almost a year of planning, we have finally started rehearsals for Base Layer. It has felt a bit strange to finally have things on their feet, but I am so excited to carry on working with this cast and crew for the next few weeks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday 2nd July was our very first rehearsal. We decided that it would be best to treat these initial gatherings as workshops rather than official structured rehearsals so that we could bond as a company and create material in a more relaxed setting. The rehearsal began with energetic games like ‘Keepy-uppy’ (technical term) and ‘The sun shines on…’ but we also worked on our ensemble skills with concentration games – hopefully by the time we perform we will be so used to being around each other that we will be much more successful at these!

The main bulk of time on Saturday was spent creating chair duets (inspired by Frantic Assembly) in pairs and trios, to give us some material to bounce off when we begin blocking scenes next week. We tried these out with lots of different tracks from various points in the piece and talked a lot about speed changes to create interest. It was a very successful rehearsal – although we forgot to break very much so we were all pretty brain-dead by the end: lesson for next week!

Sunday’s rehearsal began in a very similar way. The combination of actors was slightly different, so after warming up we dove back into chair duet mode and looked at entrances and exits to these short scenes. In order to move forward, we looked at how we could use these chair duets to portray a more specific type of character and ended up developing a basic idea for the opening movement sequence. It was all very exciting and hopefully the work we have done there will speed up the process of rehearsals later on.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During the second part of Sunday’s rehearsal we began making something concrete for one scene in the piece. This particular scene comes quite late on in the story, but at this stage we are just looking at getting the choreography down – character journey’s will come later. The sequence looked at physicalising the rational and irrational parts of someone’s mind and it was fantastic to see our vision coming to life. We worked very quickly and came away with our first movement sequence blocked – very comforting given the quick turn around on this project. I am so excited to carry on rehearsing next week – I can’t believe we get to do this all day every day!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As we go through the rehearsal process, we will be documenting our progress as often as we can (without giving away spoilers!) so make sure you are following us on twitter @theatreofminds as that you have liked our facebook page to stay completely up to date.

Tickets are selling very well, so make sure you get yours now before they sell out! Visit the Base Layer page on the blog and follow the link there to book.