Sleeping Beauty – Rehearsal Diary: Week 5

by Ewan Black

So here we are in the final week of rehearsals, and it’s all gone very fast. Through week five we continued to work on the second part of act two. It became apparent that this wouldn’t be so easy as we have to create a satisfying ending. What I mean by “satisfying ending” is that we want the audience to feel like all the problems of the story are resolved or left in a way that is pleasing – we ended up creating a chase scene, making sure the play flows well and, as I was saying, create that fulfilling ending.

The chase scene took a while to go through because there was a lot of movement involved. The chase is married with a fantastic heavy rockish song which makes it all a lot more exciting. Doing the chase scene without the sound and lighting effects was still good but I’m sure when we have all of it together it will vamp up the effect and create a fantastic bit of theatre… again I don’t want to go into too much detail about it – you’ll have to come and see it!

The ending has proven quite hard to crack for us. We have already had four different variations and I have a feeling that as we go into tech next week we will have at least another one, or at least a slight alteration. As I said this is because we are trying to find the ending that satisfies, that finishes our characters stories and that provides a great message for the audience to go away with and think about. Part of our problem is that we have taken two stories and put them together to make one. We have the story of Sleeping Beauty and the welsh folk tale of The Leaves that Hung but Never Grew. We need to make sure both stories are completed by the end, and that they are combined well.

On Friday we did a run of act two and some problems arose. Sally realised that the act didn’t quite flow right and that we had lost the “heart of the story”, which in our case is the relationship between Prince Percy and Deilen – and of course, their individual stories. We had lots of funny bits and larger than life sections that in reality aren’t part of what I like to call ‘the core story’. When I first look at a play I like to find the core. So for me, that would be picking out the key components of what actually happens in the story and putting aside the things that aren’t essential. This helps you to keep on track of what is, as Sally said, “the heart of the story.” So on Saturday, Sally and dramaturg Adam Peck thought about where they could implement more scenes that would show the developing relationship between our two main characters. We also cut down some of the other scenes that weren’t crucial. Sally and Adam also decided to swap some scenes around to make the show flow better. Then finally we changed the ending to answer the questions that the welsh folk tale asks and create that all important satisfying ending.

On Saturday afternoon we did our first full run through of the show. It went well, we also saw that the work we had done in the morning really helped shape the story. Sally and Adam took notes of what they thought worked, and what they thought didn’t work, and I’m sure we will do some more editing on Monday before we go into the theatre to start tech.

The show is in a great place and I’m excited to add costumes, lighting, sound and, of course, the stage to what we have done! Into tech week we go!

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

Photography by Steve Tanner

Sleeping Beauty plays in Bristol Old Vic Theatre from 27 Nov 2015 – 17 Jan 2016. Find out more and book tickets here

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