The Light Burns Blue: Rehearsal Diary – Week 5

musician and YOUNG COMPANY MEMBER jack Orozco Morrison SHARES his DIARY FROM REHEARSALS FOR THE LIGHT BURNS BLUE. Setting out to ‘divide and conquer’, thoughts turn to music and time is of the essence as the company hurtle towards the next intensive rehearsal week…

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsal - Photo by Justine Frost

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsal – Photo by Justine Frost

As we enter into the final week of rehearsals before our next intensive week, there’s a faint sense of urgency in Rehearsal Room 1. We file in, chatting and laughing, but quickly discard our bags and form a circle. The pleasant freedom of exploration that we had become so accustomed to has now been replaced with a necessity for efficiency.

After the ritual of going around the circle and answering a question (this week asking which celebrity and which song we would take to a desert island), it’s down to business.

Lisa Gregan, our director, commands James Kent, our assistant director, to lead us in a warm up. And then whispers to him forebodingly to not let the warm-up go past 8:30. And rightly so, time is very precious now. The rehearsal process has now become a monument to efficiency; there isn’t an ounce of flab, not a minute is wasted. Lisa organises the process to maximise the amount of work accomplished; we split ourselves into two or three groups to ‘divide and conquer’, as it is now referred. Each group is tasked with a scene to reimagine; our job is to take the section of Silva Semerciyan’s fantastic script that we’ve been appointed with and find a way of translating it from page to stage. This is by no means an easy task; we have to take ideas that were conceptualised weeks ago and rethink them. We have to streamline, clarify the unclear and sometimes just make changes. Every time we reconvene and share the progress we’ve made, I see the play in a new light, as new things are constantly coming out of the story.

Jack at the piano in rehearsal for The Tinderbox

Jack at the piano in rehearsal for The Tinderbox

In the Friday rehearsal, I was told that I’m no longer in the scene Seen (a constant source of confusion) because I need to be playing the piano in this scene’s musical accompaniment. I was initially a bit disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to perform in a scene which I helped create, but I soon sat down with Jake Bright, the musical director for The Light Burns Blue, and we began brainstorming. We watched the scene through, making notes as the actors rehearsed. We discussed the appropriate key signature, how to synchronise the music to the action and whether it would be too cheeky to slide from an F to an F#. We started improvising along with the scene and suddenly the music seemed to add a whole new element to it. As I often find in recent rehearsals, I was seeing a closer version to a final product.

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsal - Photo by Justine Frost

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsal – Photo by Justine Frost

There’s only three weeks left until we take to the Studio to perform to our first audience, but we’re working hard; lines are fast being learnt and everyone involved always comes to rehearsals with as much energy as they can muster, whilst still maintaining a necessary level of focus on the task at hand. Without a doubt, this play has been and is still a large undertaking, but as I sat behind the piano and watched the rest of the cast bring Seen to life, I find myself more than confident that we’ll end up with a play to be proud of.

The Light Burns Blue plays in Bristol Old Vic Studio between 15-18 April. Book tickets here, and check back next week for another diary from the rehearsal room.

Under The Dark Moon: Rehearsal Diary – Week 1

Slack Rope artist Chris Bull fills us in on the goings on in the Under The Dark Moon rehearsal room…

Great to be back in the rehearsal room with Invisible Circus’ Under The Dark Moon team.

Starting with a good recap on each characters journey through the show, we dived right in to the heart of the Human Condition, remembering the personal traumas and experiences which spurred the writing of the original ‘fairy stories.’

Like any deep work, the emotions were shared amongst friends and any tears were coupled with laughs!

Particularly interesting for Abby Evans to be back in the room. Our old friend, and circus great, has been away with other projects, and has now stepped into Shelly Savage’s role as Miss Savage has just had a baby!

Invisible Circus in rehearsal for Under The Dark Moon

Invisible Circus in rehearsal for Under The Dark Moon

Under The Dark Moon plays in Bristol Old Vic Theatre between 10-18 April. Book tickets here, and check back next week for another diary from the rehearsal room.

The Light Burns Blue: Rehearsal Diary – Week 4

Propolis Theatre (Made in Bristol 2015) and Young Company member Faye Bishop shares her diary from rehearsals for The Light Burns Blue. This week, parts are cast, the final script has landed and the company feel like they are really on their way…

Faye (back row, second left) in rehearsal for The Light Burns Blue - Photo by James D. Kent.

Faye (back row, second left) in rehearsal for The Light Burns Blue – Photo by James D. Kent.

A cacophony of cheerful chatter and giggling gives voice to a bubbling undercurrent of excitement and anticipation. It is the first rehearsal of the week and as the twenty strong cast of The Light Burns Blue we have just been informed that today we will receive a final draft of the script. The script that has – for the last few months – been the motivation of Silva Semerciyan’s pen, the vision of director Lisa Gregan and the provocation of our creations. Not only that, but today we will be cast. Cast in the roles that again have emerged through the weeks of devising, writing, shaping, discussing. Hours of enthused conjecture over who will play who now promises to be replaced by fact.

But first, the customary warm-up lead by assistant director James D. Kent. This is followed by a swift round of EastEnders themed Zip Zap Boing. A game that has become a staple of our theatre-making diet of late and one that is so high in energy and hilarity I would highly recommend to anyone.

Once suitably warm, we are given our parts and the preliminaries of character development begin. From considering (through writing exercises) aspects of our characters internal and external worlds, to actively physicalising and vocalising them, an acquaintance with our roles is well and truly made. These shall continue to deepen and transform over the coming weeks, but are a suitable starting point for the first reading of the final script. As we conduct a semi-physicalised reading of this wonderful work, the products of our passions pour from the pages and – amongst a myriad of intricately considered twists and turns, many slightly revised to the version of a few weeks previous – the world of the illustrious Elsie Wright is revealed.

The company in rehearsal for The Light Burns Blue - Photo by Justine Frost

The company in rehearsal for The Light Burns Blue – Photo by Justine Frost

With script and casting in place, the latter part of the week is largely dedicated to looking at the finer details and re-working of a number of the play’s opening scenes. Whilst Gregan works closely with rotating pockets of the cast, refining, characterising and motivating each moment, the rest of the troupe disperse to stage scene changes, choreograph transitions and to further explore the potentials of light and shadow manipulation. By session’s end we re-convene to showcase the fruits of our labour. What emerges are several fleshed out, characterful scenes, rich in plot and dynamism.
Reaching for our coats at the end of the day, I am met with the sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing the path ahead a little more clearly. We may still have a lot of this path to tread but as Gregan concludes, we’ve most certainly ‘got the car on the road…’

The Light Burns Blue plays in Bristol Old Vic Studio between 15-18 April. Book tickets here, and check back next week for another diary from the rehearsal room.

The Light Burns Blue: Rehearsal Diary – Week 3

Propolis Theatre (Made in Bristol 2015) and Young Company member Elana Binysh shares her diary from rehearsals for The Light Burns Blue. The rehearsal process is well under way, and the company are faced with difficult decisions about what to cut, leaving great ideas on the rehearsal room floor

Elana Binysh (centre) in rehearsal for The Light Burns Blue  -  Photo by Justine Frost

Elana Binysh (centre) in rehearsal for The Light Burns Blue – Photo by Justine Frost

This week is spent trying to figure things out.

What we have realised during this process is that this story is huge. It’s about belief, censorship, feminism, art, intelligence, theosophy, truth… We have had weeks to research and debate. We now have to try and compact it. It can’t all fit into seventy minutes (no interval), so we’re having to kill our babies. This is Bristol Old Vic’s way of saying if something doesn’t work, let it go.

We are still in a sense of limbo as, although we have a script, until we’ve decided which of our babies to put to bed, we remain uncast – bar our two leads. So we’ve been dissecting the structure. Lisa and Silva ask us to try the scenes in different orders, to see how they play against each other. We’re re-staging scenes we’ve already looked at in different groups, to see how they are interpreted with fresh eyes. Because the exciting thing about working like this is you’re in a room full of people who see things differently to you, and will make something you could never have made. And when you get twenty-odd of the most energetic and creative young people the Young Company has to offer, you don’t run out of ideas that quickly.

The Light Burns Blue company in rehearsal - Photo by Justine Frost

The Light Burns Blue company in rehearsal – Photo by Justine Frost

So we make the most of being an ensemble, which feels like a luxury – getting to make stuff with a lot of people on stage is rare, and invigorating. We work in big groups, trying to create the sense of a crowd of individuals, to give an idea of the world we think Elsie Wright lived in. And we’re getting there, I think.

The Light Burns Blue plays in Bristol Old Vic Studio between 15-18 April. Book tickets here, and check back next week for another diary from the rehearsal room.

The Light Burns Blue: Rehearsal Diary – Week 2

Propolis Theatre (Made in Bristol 2015) and Young Company member Maisie Newman shares her diary from rehearsals for The Light Burns Blue. We catch up with the company as they return to the rehearsal room following their intensive week, and pick up where they left off…

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsals. Photos by James D Kent.

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsals. Photos by James D Kent.

The week after intensive. The day is Wednesday. Twenty 16-25 year old’s are sat patiently in a circle in rehearsal room one. The last light of the day gently spills into the space and there is a soft breeze coming in from the row of windows, that have just been opened on the right side of the room. The space that surrounds them is filled with with the echoes of their explorations of Cottingley and The Beck from the last month. Slide projectors, mirrors, various light sources, silks, dyes and a loop pedal surround the space. The room, which has been a hive of activity, sound and movement, now sits eerily still, and apart from the soft discussion that is occurring between the director and the writer, most of the room is silent. There is a collective caught breath of excitement in the air. A pile of fresh white scripts rest casually on the floor. So new, they almost seem to glow from within. Today is the first read through of The Light Burns Blue.

Silva Semerciyan, has done an incredible job of collecting ideas and moments from our explorations of characters and the world of Cottingley in the last month. Our impulsive devising and heated discussions, lead by director Lisa Gregan – on women in history, what art is and the mechanics of photography – have been beautifully written into a very exciting script. We had the opportunity to explore different scenes and characters further on Friday which, as Lisa Gregan announced at the start of the session, was a “Casting workshop”. An evening of quick fire rehearsed read-throughs of scenes and swapping characters, meant we were exhausted by the end of the session, which seemed to blur by.

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsals. Photos by James D Kent.

The Light Burns Blue in rehearsals. Photos by James D Kent.

Being able to see a finalised structure and get scenes on their feet, means that this week has sparked a change of pace in the rehearsal process. By the end of it, everyone was inspired and a loud buzz of creative discussion filled the room that, on Wednesday, was briefly silent.

The Light Burns Blue plays in Bristol Old Vic Studio between 15-18 April. Book tickets here, and check back next week for another diary from the rehearsal room.