The Caretaker Rehearsal Diary – Week 1

Rehearsals have begun for our Autumn Season centrepiece, The Caretaker. Here, Assistant Director Chino Odimba gives us our first behind-the-scenes look at this blistering Pinter classic.


The Caretaker - David Judge (Mick), Patrice Naiambana (Davies) and Jonathan Livingstone (Aston) - Photo by Iona Firouzabadi 7660.jpg

The excitement is unbearable as we all walk into the rehearsal room on the first day. The smell of coffee shop bought cappuccinos and lattes, and new adventures hangs in the air.

As Assistant Director, I know part of my job is to make sure that from day one the actors feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. I make my way around the room…

Patrice Naiambana (Barber Shop Chronicles, National Theatre) as Davies, alongside David Judge (Scuttlers, Royal Exchange) as Mick, and Jonathan Livingstone (Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe) as Aston, make up a truly exceptional cast.

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And there in the middle of the room stands the ‘model box’ – this is literally a miniature version of the design for the stage as the designer and director envision it to be.

Oli Townsend, the Designer for the show, gives us a little presentation about some of the things that have inspired and underpinned their approach to the set. To tell you what I saw would be giving it away – but I almost gasp at the beauty of the thing. Oli has created a box of intricacy and fragility that truly reflects so much of the play, but is like nothing I have ever seen before. I imagine the audience seeing that for the first time…

More excitement builds…

The first day seems to be about us, the company – meaning everyone who ever creatively, and otherwise, is responsible for making the show happen – getting to hear the wonderful cast read the play for the first time together. The reading goes well.

[insert lunch break]

Christopher Haydon, the Director, tells us that for the first three days of rehearsal we will be interrogating the play. He explains this is a useful process as we can all get a sense of the underlying structures of the play. He has a way of doing this that feels right for the project.

And for the rest of that first day we go through the play, dissecting, and breaking it down into moments that reflect the character’s intentions.

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By the end of the first day, I can see what Chris means.  The actors seem to be enjoying asking questions of the text, and everyone feels so much closer to the text. I take notes furiously…sharpening and re-sharpening my pencil at regular intervals.

The next two days are spent in the very much the same way. I spend one morning, before rehearsals begin, rummaging in shops looking for a map of London so we can track all the places the characters go to, in and around London.

It has been a great first few days as an Assistant Director. The next time we walk back into the room, we will be getting it ‘on its feet’.

More on that next week!


The Caretaker opens at Bristol Old Vic 9-30 September. For more information and to book tickets, click here. 

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