Sarah Bradley is one of the Assistant Directors of King Lear from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, working alongside Bristol Old Vic’s Tom Morris. Here she feeds back some of her initial thoughts after the first week of rehearsals.
Excitement filled the air in the Speilman Studio at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School on Monday morning (09/05/16). It was the first day of King Lear rehearsals so all the cast and crew were brought together to finally meet. The acting students were very eager to meet the professional actors, Timothy West, Stephanie Cole and David Hargreaves, who they will be working with for the next nine weeks. Everyone was also thrilled to begin working with our Director, Tom Morris.
After we had all been introduced to one another, our fantastic Design Team began to present their design concepts and ideas for the show to the entire company. Both Anna Orton, our Set Designer and Aldo Vazquez Yela, our Costume Designer are M.A Theatre Design students at the school. Anna opened the presentation by displaying the model box of the set she has designed for the show. A model box is an accurate scaled down model of a theatre set. It gives a designer an opportunity to see what their design will look like overall before it is built to scale. It also helps the actors and director have a clear idea of what the set will look like and understand the measurements of large set pieces whilst they are rehearsing.
Aldo finished the presentation by showing the company the wonderful drawings of his costume designs. It was thrilling to see the actors reactions to their costumes. It is important that the actors know what their costumes are going to look like at the beginning of the rehearsals period as some designs will create restricted movement. Throughout rehearsals both Designers will continue to check in with Tom and the actors and adapt any new ideas that come out of the rehearsal room into their design process. After we finished the design presentation we began a read through of the script.
During the read through the cast sat around in a large circle and read their parts aloud. It was thrilling for everyone involved as it was the first glimpse of our future production. After we had finished reading the script, Tom ended rehearsals by splitting the cast into three groups. Each group was asked to think about the main themes explored within the text. It was extremely interesting to see all the different ideas each group came up with.
It was clear from this exercise that the script is not simply about age and cruelty but also about identity, gender, betrayal, family, love, nature and much much more. Each group was also asked to think about what this text asks its audience and how they will question both themselves and humanity as they make their way out of the auditorium. With this in mind, we now wait in anticipation of our opening night to see if any of our questions emerge.