The Little Matchgirl Rehearsal Diary – Week 1

Rehearsals have officially begun for our Christmas show, The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales. Here, Assistant Director Keziah Serreau gives us a first behind-the-scenes look at this Christmas’ Hans Christian Andersen-inspired tale.


Image 1.jpg


Here we are on the first day of Little Matchgirl remount rehearsals and it’s all very exciting. I can sense a few nerves floating about in the room as the company arrive one after the other. It feels a bit like the first day at school. We’re remounting the show with an entirely new company of actors apart from our Puppeteer Eddie, most of them have not worked together before. The room is bubbling with the same excitement and apprehension as when one embarks on an entirely new play. Although the show is familiar to me as I was in rehearsals when it was first created last year, I cannot wait to see how this new company will bring their own interpretation to the show.

Another new element is the fact that we now have a fully formed set, hooray! We first created the show for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse which is a beautiful and intimate candlelit theatre but can also be quite restrictive in terms of set design. So, as this show will now venture into new venues touring around the UK over the next months, Vicki our Designer, gives us a short presentation of the model box. She has come up with a set that embraces the different worlds of the show, from the magical Edwardian music hall world of Ole Shuteye to the cold reality in which our Little Matchgirl lives.

Emma and Vicki explain they want the set to reflect the injustice and inequalities happening worldwide, they want to reclaim the idea of Christmas by acknowledging the harsh living conditions many people experience. On a cut out stuck on the model box, we see an abundant xmas table and can read the words ‘make Christmas great again’, we all laugh.

We play a few games to start with and get to know each other. We jokingly call it our youth club warm up. The atmosphere becomes playful and focused. Playing games switches our brains on, gets rid of inhibitions and binds us together, all the essential elements we need to be creative and collaborative.

Next, Sarah, our Puppet Director leads a short puppet session before she has to rush off to Bristol to perform in The Tin Drum. Sarah hands out sticks of all different shapes and sizes and the company play with the idea of the stick being just a stick in the hand of an actor to a puppet stick operated by an actor.  The company explore the different focus points and the relationship between the puppeteer, the puppet and audience.

Katy tries to operate Thumbelina and after a few goes, she discovers how very technically difficult it is to operate a puppet, she jokingly suggests that perhaps Thumbelina should be in a chair as she struggles to make the puppet legs walk.

As stage management unfold all the props of the show, our rehearsal room fills up with big beetle legs, mattresses, a toad, a swallow, a butterfly, small beetles, a fly, crowns, Christmas trees, a thunder box, mice, presents, chips and a charity workers hi viz jacket.

As the company start to learn the moves and songs of the Shuteyes, our chorus of Edwardian music hall story tellers, the company unveil some of the magic and start to own this play.


The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales opens at Bristol Old Vic from 30 Nov – 14 Jan. For more information and to book tickets, click here. 

Advertisements

The Caretaker Rehearsal Diary – Week 4

With preparations for previews well under way, The Caretaker Assistant Director Chino Odimba took a quick five minutes out of the rehearsal room to fill us in on all the latest updates from week 4.


The Caretaker - Rehearsals - Photo by Iona Firouzabadi - 8473.jpgIf the last three weeks have been the slow saunter through the tunnel, mascot happily dancing in front of you, this week is the bit just before the referee throws the coin up in the air.

And now imagine that before all of this, this is the first time you have been on this particular pitch, in this particular stadium…

Weird football analogy over…

Having spent most of the rehearsal time so far in a one of the lovely rehearsal spaces at Bristol Old Vic, we are now moving onto the stage.

This may come as surprise but for most productions, the cast do not start using the stage space until the final week of rehearsal.

It is a week of testing everything that we have been doing in the rehearsal room – and sometimes having to rethink scenes. There are people everywhere – technicians, costumes makers, dressers, stage managers, producers, sound designers, lighting designers, and the cast all trying to get the best of the week before we open to you – the public! We might even spot our Artistic Director Tom Morris popping in to see how things are going…eeek!!!

Piz 1

This part of the process is where all the ideas about costumes, lighting, sound and set come together to make the show that we will all be seeing in under six days!  The set will be ‘dressed’, things will be ‘flown’ and the several gallons of coffee will be drank!

There is also a lot of excitement to see the final look for each actor…we have had some glimpses of costume but yet to see them in all their glory.

My role as Assistant Director will mean I spend a lot of time with the actors helping to them to feel confident with who their character is, and ensuring they know their lines as best as possible. Right until the opening previews, we will now be working to make the show better and better, and find new things that we didn’t, and couldn’t, have found in the rehearsal room.

I’ve had a fun time being Assistant Director for The Caretaker – it is a play that I love very much so feel especially honoured to be working on it. Seeing the process of a play from the initial reading of the script to the realisation of it on a stage is something quite special indeed.

For now, I’m strapping my boots on, waiting for the whistle to go, and for kick-off!!

Wish us luck…and see you there for a post match drink or two!


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

The Caretaker Rehearsal Diary – Week 3

While The Caretaker rehearsals continue powering ahead, Assistant Director Chino Odimba updates us on the latest rehearsal room antics as the company prepare to take on our powerful adaptation of Pinter’s 20th century masterpiece.


The Caretaker - Rehearsals - Photo by Iona Firouzabadi - 8088.jpg
264 hours left until the show opens…

The sun is blazing outside and the windows are open in the rehearsal room as we get started on another week of rehearsals for The Caretaker.

Now that we have ‘interrogated’ the text, and got the play on its feet, the next phase of the process seems to be about deciding what we’re keeping in the show. The ideas of what motivates a character to do the things they do seem to be all encompassing.

Each scene/moment of the scene is worked through with this in mind. This is a more forensic way of working with the text, but it does start to make the words come alive in a completely new way!

As well as this, we are now at the point of the rehearsal process where the actors want to feel that they have ‘coming off book’ – being able to work without referring to the script. This is one of the things as an Assistant Director that I can help with. I spend an hour or so most days with each of the cast going through their lines – prompting them when they miss something – and discussing the meaning behind why they might be saying something. I thoroughly enjoy working with the cast in this way but I am not sure how much the actors do – there are certainly a few choice words of frustration when they miss a line!

I am always impressed by the craft of remembering lines – especially for a play such as this, which is so wordy and has interesting moments of dialogue, long monologues, and abrupt turns in conversations. I watch in awe as they bring the words to life…

By the end of the week we have got through the end of the play again – with most staging starting to feel set.

We spend an afternoon with a fight director as some moments in the play get quite physical. The movement in these parts of the play has to both be convincing but safe for the cast to play night after night. It all looks very real by the end of the day.

To end the week, the sound designer Elena comes in to record some of the background sounds with the cast and Patrice Naiambana, who is has an impressive array of African drums (and plays them beautifully), records some of the music that will make up some of the music in the show.

As all the various creatives become more involved in what is having in the rehearsal room, it becomes so apparent how collaborative, theatre making is and has to be. It’s a great thing to be a part of!

I have so much more to tell you but in the meantime look out for our Twitter takeover with exclusive images from the rehearsal room!


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

The Caretaker Rehearsal Diary – Week 2

With The Caretaker rehearsals heating up, here Assistant Director Chino Odimba fills us in on all the latest happenings as our powerful adaptation of this 20th Century classic takes shape.


The Caretaker - Rehearsals - Photo by Iona Firouzabadi -7852.jpg

12 coffees, 4 cakes and 2 broken pencils later…

Following on from a great start of rehearsals ‘interrogating the text’, we have moved onto the next part of the process – what it means to bring a story alive on stage.

‘Getting it on it’s feet’ is one of the first terms I learnt in a rehearsal room. And it does exactly what it says on the tin! This is the action of getting actors to start to work with the play and see what movements, stances, intonations, energy each line of the play may require. It can be a lot of fun because it allows actors to come at their characters in as many different ways as possible – and that way get to know their characters more. Every character has his/her way of walking, talking, and even staying quiet. Getting it on it’s feet is our way of starting to work this out.

But this is where you really understand the work of an actor. To take words, (usually at this stage holding a script in their hand) and try to make sense of the world of a play (more on this later!), and a character whilst at the same time trying to get your brain to read and remember the words is as tricky as it sounds! I watch in awe at our cast doing just this.

Pic 1Jonathan Livingstone who is playing Aston in the play, starts to think like his character and when handed a box of plugs by the stage manager, Lara, he silently goes about ordering the plugs into neat rows. All broken but somehow ordered. I feel like this sums up his character so beautifully…

I run over to take a pic!

Pic 2

And this is how we have spent most of the last few days, trying out different ways of approaching the scenes, and trying to get a better understanding of what the play could be about.

As part of understanding the language of his character, David Judge who plays Mick wants to tighten up the language of his character, so we bring in a voice/dialect coach, I sit in the room with them, as they make strange noises, and explore how the character might speak, and what that tells us about Mick.

By the end of the week, we’ve gone through the whole play in a ‘draft’ version of the staging.  Cast look happy, and director Christopher Haydon seems pleased with progress.

Getting it on it’s feet has been a real eye-opener. Even with the random props, no lighting or sound design, you can almost see what the play might become – and what audiences coming to Bristol Old Vic in just over 3 weeks might get to see.

There is now talk of costumes… we pin ideas on the board…I might give you a little sneak peek next week.

Until then…book your ticket!! This is going to be special.


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

Julius Caesar Cast Bio | Alice

With Julius Caesar now in previews, we’ve been interviewing the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School actors cast to play alongside theatre professionals, Julian Glover and Lynn Farleigh.

Here we get to know Alice, one of the Theatre School’s talented rising stars.


Character_Cards_Alice_Kerrigan2Alice Kerrigan
Lucia

BOVTS: Grace in Sex With A Stranger (Directors’ Cuts, Wardrobe Theatre); Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Duckling Smith/ Meg Long/ Rev. Johnson in Our Country’s Good, Nora in A Doll’s House, Titania/ Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ensemble in Love and Information, Marge Murray/DJ Shadow/Trish Stiger in The Laramie Project, Hannah in Days of Significance, Olivia in Twelfth Night, Lady Teasel in The School For Scandal, Helen in The Vortex. Pre BOVTS: Ellie in The Electra Project (Edinburgh Fringe); Dee Morden in BBC Casualty, Carol in No Kaddish and Camarthen (Warp Films).

Where are you from and how did you get into acting? 
I am from Brighton! I would always jump at the chance to be in the school plays and I was very lucky to go to a school that had a great drama department.   I also used to attend a part time theatre school on the weekends called The Theatre Workshop.  They were so passionate about nurturing talent and It was fantastic.  I was there from the age of 13 up until the age of 18 when I auditioned for drama schools.  It started as a fun hobby but then grew into a love that I knew I couldn’t do anything else.  Now I’m at the Bristol Old Vic woo!

Who are you playing in Julius Caesar and what challenges have you faced in that role? 
I’m playing Lucia, Cinna The Poet and the Cobbler. When having multiple roles you have to make sure each character is a different individual and believable which can be tough.  The verse is always a challenge, but having trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and being guided by Simon, Julian and Lynne during this process we have all learnt so much and tackled it together.

What’s your favourite thing about training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School?  
100% the people.  Having shared a very unique experience with such a great group of friends who are all so supportive and incredibly talent is absolutely amazing.  Each person has their own special journey throughout training and it’s such an exciting process of discovering, exploring and having fun!

What’s the best thing about working with Julian Glover, Lynn Farleigh, and John Hartoch?
They are so knowledgeable, caring and such fun to be around.  I keep trying to soak up all their little gems of advice and the fact they are willing to share this with us and help us throughout the process is incredible.  We are very lucky indeed.

How does it feel to be taking Bristol Old Vic’s stage in your graduating show?
SCARY!  But I feel so lucky.  This is such a great opportunity at such a beautiful theatre.  What a way to end the last three years!


This June we reunite with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School to present Shakespeare’s riveting political drama Julius Caesar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.