PRopolis theatre (made in bristol 2015) and YOUNG COMPANY member jenny davies SHARES Her DIARY FROM REHEARSALS FOR THE LIGHT BURNS BLUE. Characters take shape and the company see the set for the first time…
We are three weeks away from opening night. There is a lot to get through, and just enough time to do it in. Just. Three weeks suddenly seems like a very short space of time. On entering the rehearsal room this week however, it would seem that the company are up for the challenge – any nerves have quickly been transformed into an energetic enthusiasm that takes us through what could have been a stressful week.
There is a lot to be excited about. Designer Max Johns reveals an intricately detailed model of his carefully thought out set design. We all gather round as he gives us a tour of this mini world that somehow manages to collide many different locations and time shifts into one versatile performing space. Having the model in the rehearsal room proves to be incredibly useful and we use it as a visual reference when blocking scenes from now on. The presence of Cheryl Curley, our stage manager, is hugely welcomed. Both her and Max tape out the markers for the set and start bringing in props for us to play with.
This week is mostly about blocking so that we can to get as much of a framework of the play as possible. As well as blocking each scene, director Lisa Gregan works out movement and transitions. Jake Bright, our composer hands out pieces of music to the musicians in our group who are enthusiastic to learn the new composition and eagerly start practicing. The ball is rolling and things are starting to come together. By Friday we have the first half of the play blocked and we ran through it for the first time up to that point. It is exciting that the story is beginning to take shape.
There is also a lot of work to be done on character. I play the role of Winifred Douglas, a reporter who comes into contact with Elsie Wright (played by Kate Alhadeff). Over the last few weeks, Kate and I have been working with writer Silva Semerciyan and Lisa to construct the characters of Elsie and Winifred and develop their complex relationship. We’ve been theoretically mapping out their journey – until this point, there has been a lot of much needed in-depth discussion about who they are and what has lead them here, but now it’s time to get the characters on their feet. Lisa directs us in our first scene together and after a while, we settle into the roles and start to find moments in the scene that surprise us. We feel we have a real starting point. For Kate and I, It’s now about finding the intricacies in Elsie and Winifred and pushing them, discovering their quirks, their flaws.
The Light Burns Blue hosts a wealth of interesting and complex female characters and it’s been really exciting to be a part of the devising process. I think it has really made us all realise that there is a real lack of plays like this for young people. I still remember the frustration at school about the ratio of male to female roles, but also the lack of female roles that didn’t just serve as passive love interests. Winifred’s character is largely influenced by a groundbreaking investigative journalist known as Nellie Bly. She is intelligent, logical and at times obsessive in her own brilliant way (I hope I’ll do her justice!). Let’s write roles for young women that we’d actually want to play, and let’s make sure that there are enough of them.