The Caretaker Rehearsal Diary – Week 1

Rehearsals have begun for our Autumn Season centrepiece, The Caretaker. Here, Assistant Director Chino Odimba gives us our first behind-the-scenes look at this blistering Pinter classic.

The Caretaker - David Judge (Mick), Patrice Naiambana (Davies) and Jonathan Livingstone (Aston) - Photo by Iona Firouzabadi 7660.jpg

The excitement is unbearable as we all walk into the rehearsal room on the first day. The smell of coffee shop bought cappuccinos and lattes, and new adventures hangs in the air.

As Assistant Director, I know part of my job is to make sure that from day one the actors feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. I make my way around the room…

Patrice Naiambana (Barber Shop Chronicles, National Theatre) as Davies, alongside David Judge (Scuttlers, Royal Exchange) as Mick, and Jonathan Livingstone (Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe) as Aston, make up a truly exceptional cast.


And there in the middle of the room stands the ‘model box’ – this is literally a miniature version of the design for the stage as the designer and director envision it to be.

Oli Townsend, the Designer for the show, gives us a little presentation about some of the things that have inspired and underpinned their approach to the set. To tell you what I saw would be giving it away – but I almost gasp at the beauty of the thing. Oli has created a box of intricacy and fragility that truly reflects so much of the play, but is like nothing I have ever seen before. I imagine the audience seeing that for the first time…

More excitement builds…

The first day seems to be about us, the company – meaning everyone who ever creatively, and otherwise, is responsible for making the show happen – getting to hear the wonderful cast read the play for the first time together. The reading goes well.

[insert lunch break]

Christopher Haydon, the Director, tells us that for the first three days of rehearsal we will be interrogating the play. He explains this is a useful process as we can all get a sense of the underlying structures of the play. He has a way of doing this that feels right for the project.

And for the rest of that first day we go through the play, dissecting, and breaking it down into moments that reflect the character’s intentions.


By the end of the first day, I can see what Chris means.  The actors seem to be enjoying asking questions of the text, and everyone feels so much closer to the text. I take notes furiously…sharpening and re-sharpening my pencil at regular intervals.

The next two days are spent in the very much the same way. I spend one morning, before rehearsals begin, rummaging in shops looking for a map of London so we can track all the places the characters go to, in and around London.

It has been a great first few days as an Assistant Director. The next time we walk back into the room, we will be getting it ‘on its feet’.

More on that next week!

The Caretaker opens at Bristol Old Vic 9-30 September. For more information and to book tickets, click here. 

Ferment Fortnight Preview | Undersong

Following an exciting week of work at Arnolfini, Ferment Fortnight continues its work-in-progress mini-fest in our theatre from 18-20 July. Here, composer, director and performer Verity Standen gives an inside look at her upcoming show Undersong, on-stage Tue 18 July.


Tell us a bit about yourself…
Howdy. My name is Verity – I’m a composer based in Bristol. I very much enjoy experimenting with the human voice. I’ve been creating unusual vocal performances for around 10 years: sometimes with choirs, sometimes as part of theatre productions, occasionally in surprising places like castles and hospitals, often with people who have never received any formal training. And when I’m not working on big participatory projects, I like to challenge myself with new musical ideas.

What are you presenting at Ferment Fortnight?
Undersong – at the moment – is a series of experiments. I have written some new musical material and this week I have gathered some brilliant singers to play with those ideas. We’re trying to explore different ways that an audience might experience the music – with singers filtering through them, surrounding them, singing across them – I want to discover how that feels for people listening.

I hope that Undersong will become a large-scale piece of work, with a big ensemble of performers. As part of Ferment we are challenging ourselves to create these effects with just 6 singers. My work doesn’t tend to use words or narrative ideas, so these early stages are really important for starting to sense what people make of the sound worlds.

What inspired/influenced your piece?
I’m always inspired by human behaviour: how fickle and complex we are as creatures. I write music by improvising, and it’s often quite a while later that I realise what I was actually drawing from. Musically, I’m interested in gathering together my love of eastern European sounds (Bulgarian and Georgian folk songs, for instance) with contemporary composers like Philip Glass.

What does the work that Ferment do mean to you?
I’m often working on something that feels utterly ridiculous and I need people outside that process to help me work out what it is. But it’s important that those people come with a spirit of experiment and support – and that’s why Ferment is so important, because audiences arrive with a desire to discuss and to consider rather than to judge.

What would you say the audience can expect in three words?
Intricacy. Discombobulation. And hopefully a little bit of beauty.

Ferment Fortnight returns to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre stage 18-20 July. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

INKBLOC Ensemble Rehearsal Diary – Week 8

Intensive rehearsals continue ahead of INKBLOC Ensemble’s debut show LEGO BeachHere, company member Genevieve spills all the beans about the very latest INKBLOC shenanigans.

3 Days.jpgRehearsals have gone up another level, all hands are on deck, INKBLOCers are arriving earlier and leaving later, putting their all into performances and roles! Our writers and directors have been working into the night to create an inspiring script for us to bring to life as an ensemble through intriguing characters and the heart warming friendship of three girls…and obviously not forgetting THE LEGO!!!

All the hard work has paid off, and LEGO Beach is now a formed play. It is exciting to knuckle down to the details, adding quirk and our own thumb print – which is what we wanted to do all along! Think glamorous puppet dogs, think beautiful songs, think rock and roll fish and chips…Although nothing is ever set in stone we are always adapting and changing (but that is what devising is, and we love it!!)

This week has been particularly exciting for me as my set finally arrived! 80 plastic container boxes washed up into our rehearsal room on Wednesday! Soon I think I will become a plastic box. They have added so much colour to the room creating the most adaptable Lego wall, which has influenced a lot of our choreography.

This process has been such an ‘arty treat’ for me – I’ve designed a logo, which includes our unique thumbprints, got into some absurd angles to photograph Lego for the poster and played around with colourful boxes (what a dream)!

Bold Lego colours, shiny artificial plastic and container boxes reflect our theme of bringing the unnatural to the natural world – and oh what an effect it can have! I wanted to create something large scale and colourful, but easy to tour, adaptable and fun. Waves out of plastic boxes? Never you cry? Absolutely possible we say!! We will take on anything!

How would you describe LEGO Beach in one sentence? Sometimes consumerism can take over…sometimes we need to take a step back and re-evaluate the important things in life. Our show LEGO Beach confronts this through movement, music and story telling. It is an emotional whirlwind filled with giggles.

I am so lucky to be one of the INKBLOC family, it is such a wonderful and talented group of theatre makers. I’m really looking forward to this final week, working with full energy and creativity…fuelled by lots of tea and biscuits!

Come see LEGO Beach!! We promise you will leave smelling the sea.

INKBLOC Ensemble are this year’s resident Made in Bristol company – Bristol Old Vic’s theatre training course for ages 18-25. For more information about the programme, click here.

INKBLOC Ensemble Cast Bio | Toby

Ahead of their debut show, LEGO Beach, we sat down with INKBLOC Ensemble to discover a little more about this year’s Made in Bristol troupe.

Here we caught up with Toby to find out all about his Bristol Old Vic theatre background.

TobyWhat have you been involved in at the Bristol Old Vic and outside of Made in Bristol?
I went to college in Brighton, studying English Language and Literature, Philosophy and Economics. Prior to Made In Bristol I had been attending Young Company sessions from January 2016 as a way to keep the creative ball rolling when I moved here from Brighton. Later in the year I had met some people from past years Made In Bristol (Splint), did some research and decided to apply!

I was also in the Love of the Nightingale Production and I had the role of Tereus and it was exciting times!

LOTN - Jack Offord (4)

What is this year for you?
This year is all about sharpening my tools within the world of theatre, while also becoming familiar with Bristol and the lovely people it homes.

Favourite thing about INKBLOC?
My favourite thing about INKBLOC is how we all seem to charge each other up with this excitable energy. I think it may be due to a lot of us thinking we’re hilarious. Nevertheless it does us a lot of good when creating.

Plans for the future?
I’d like to see where we could go with INKBLOC after Made In Bristol for however long and eventually end up at a leading drama school.

Tell us something interesting?
I managed to overdose on caffeine once… wasn’t fun.

LEGO Beach is INKBLOC Ensemble’s debut show, on Walkabout at 1532 Performing Arts Centre 19-22 July. For more information and to book, click here

INKBLOC Ensemble Cast Bio| Krista

Ahead of their debut show, LEGO Beach, we sat down with INKBLOC Ensemble to discover a little more about this year’s Made in Bristol troupe.

Here we caught up with Krista to find out all about his Bristol Old Vic theatre background.

KristaWhat have you been involved in at the Bristol Old Vic and outside of Made in Bristol?
For 3 years I was part of young company, performing in two productions; Tinderbox and Light Burns Blue before starting Made In Bristol.

Favourite thing about INKBLOC?
My favourite part of INKBLOC is how playful we are. As a company we do love a good game or two, my personal favourite being Fives where we have maintained a strong score of 36 and lost 2 balls (RIP Dino 2016-2017).

Plans for the future?
This September I will be embarking on a degree in Drama, Applied Theatre and Writing for Stage at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Its exciting times but also very daunting as I don’t know how to use a washing machine. I’m shivering with excitement to start directing.

Tell us something interesting?
…I’m a black belt in karate and I’ve been to the Great Wall of China. My only good conversation starters are knowledge.

LEGO Beach is INKBLOC Ensemble’s debut show, on Walkabout at 1532 Performing Arts Centre 19-22 July. For more information and to book, click here