Sleeping Beauty – Rehearsal Diary: Week 3 & 4

by Ewan Black, Company Member

Ewan in rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty - Photography by Steve Tanner

Ewan (left) in rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty – Photography by Steve Tanner

Week 3

Things are going very well in camp Sleeping Beauty! With a lot of discussion about what will work and what won’t, we eventually get to the end of act one. This meant we could move on to the next stage of the devising process.

Once we have the shape, the basic text and the songs in place we now go back to the start of act one and finesse, edit and fine tune. We started doing this on Tuesday and through the week would go very slowly over each scene really picking out the detail. In a way we started rehearsing a play the normal way! It’s still a very open process and many of the scenes change dramatically and sometimes even the main story line will too. What I’ve come to notice is that we go round in big circles testing out every idea under the sun and then normally use the original one. It’s just part of the process because then we can be sure that we have taken on the right idea!

We had George Mann and Marc Parrett come in to look at the movement and puppetry. Sometimes we would be looking at movement and puppetry at the same time, all whilst singing and doing magic!

This is also a chance for Benji to go through sound ques with the band and really sharpen up when the music comes in. Benji is doing the sound design for the show so this means any explosions, phone rings or magical noises need to placed.  This sometimes takes a while but it’s worth doing now so that it doesn’t take up too much time during the tech week.

After we had gone through the whole first act, readjusting and polishing, we then did a run for most of the people involved with the show. So the lighting designer, set designer, producer, costume designer, stage manager and marketing all came to watch. This is so they could get an idea of where the show was going and start thinking about ideas for their departments if they hadn’t already.

We ended this week on a very positive note with a fantastic first act in place. Time to dive into act two!

The company in rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty - Photography by Steve Tanner

Week 4 

Week four takes us into the second act of Sleeping Beauty. We have a rough idea of where the story will go, but there are still lots of plot holes to fill and resolutions to be made. We start by improvising – the same way we did act one in the first two weeks. Sally will tell us what needs to happen in the scene and where the story needs to go, we improvise that and Adam Peck will record it.

Lots of fantastic things came out of this week and it’s proving a lot faster to improvise as our characters are already built now and we almost know who will say what where. We’ve actually moved very fast and by the end of the week had 35 minutes of act two down, leaving only two or three scenes to do next week.

We spent two days on a travelling scene which has turned in to quite an epic piece of devised theatre! In this part of the show the girl and Prince Percy are travelling against the elements, which are being created by the company. Benji and brilliant band created a rather amusing song to go along with it which I have the pleasure of singing! This part took two days because it had to be choreographed by George Mann and it’s quite a lengthy bit of music that has to be filled. The end result was absolutely fantastic.

A personal favourite from the week though was a little sheep dance but I’m not going to get into that as I don’t want to give it a way! Sheep kick line. I’ll just say that.

So we are in a great place going into the final week of rehearsals and I imagine next week we may do a full run of the show!

Ewan recently graduated from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and is a Peter O’Toole Prize winner, generously supported by Bristol Grammar School

Sleeping Beauty plays in Bristol Old Vic Theatre from 27 Nov 2015 – 17 Jan 2016. Find out more and book tickets here. Check back next week for more from Ewan in the rehearsal room.

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