Medusa: Rehearsal Diary – Week 1

by Hattie Taylor

Everyone arrives on Monday morning ready to get stuck in to the show. For some people it’s their first time meeting everyone, for others we’ve been around since the R & D. It’s good to see familiar faces, and nice to have some new ones too. Director Toby Hulse gives everyone a quick overview of the project, and we all introduce ourselves, then it’s straight into a read through. It feels like a completely different show being read by the actors rather than being flat on the page, and I know it will feel totally different again once we add in the music. Next up, designer Max Johns comes to show us his wonderful set and costume designs and everyone gets very excited. The show is going to look fantastic!

Photos by ShotAway

Day two, and the ladies have a lot of singing to do! Already the first couple of songs sound gorgeous, and I’m amazed by how quickly the three actresses are picking up Verity Standen’s beautiful but nightmarish harmonies. The music totally transports you into Medusa’s world the second you hear it, and I think it’s helping every else to fall into place. By the afternoon we’re moving onto staging, which means Robin Hemmings gets to finally join in!

Photos by ShotAway

Day three, and we’ve been told off for our Spinner’s stamping too loudly and making the chandelier below us shake… But it looks really cool. In the afternoon we move on to scene 4, which is our big problem scene. The actors try some different improvisations to try possible solutions (some of which ended up really creepy) and almost killed off everyone a few times… It’s a sign of what writer Adam Peck was feeling about this scene that it was his suggestion! Making Theseus as mean and violent as possible was really fun, but when we thought about the context of the show we realised it didn’t really work, and the massacre had to go.

Photos by ShotAway

Mini disaster struck on day four – Verity has tonsillitis and can’t come in. This means we are music-less. The morning is spent monster building and playing with the different ways Theseus and Medusa can fight each other. It comes to a general consensus that to fit in with the staging the scene needs a little bit of restructuring, so the cast spend the afternoon chopping up a large script and moving bits around – and have a lot of fun doing it. It turns out that walking backwards in a group and reading your lines off the floor is a great bonding exercise.

As the first week of rehearsals comes to an end we are still short one MD, but up a Medusa head! The ladies take it in turns to play with it in the last scene while taunting Theseus, and I get to have a hold of it – it’s very heavy! Yesterday’s work has paid off and the last scene flows with the fighting in a new way. We’ve managed to roughly get through the whole show now, so the actors go home to learn their lines over the long weekend (hooray for bank holidays!), and the rest of us go home for a rest.

Photos by ShotAway

Medusa plays in Bristol Old Vic Studio between 7-11 July. Find out more, and book tickets, here

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