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. 

Ferment Fortnight Preview | We Can Time Travel

Following a blinding week of work at Arnolfini, Ferment Fortnight continues its work-in-progress mini-fest in our theatre 18-20 July. Here, Dom Coyote gives us an inside look at the upcoming We Can Time Travelon-stage Thu 20 July.


Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hello, Dom Coyote here. I’m a musician and theatre maker. I sing, write songs and play lots of instruments like analogue synths and electric guitars and some strange instruments from far off climbs. I like making stories and building worlds to tell them in. I’m a big collaborator with Kneehigh Theatre and they taught me everything I know pretty much. When I’m making my own work, I make Gig-Theatre, a cross pollination of music gig and theatre. It’s different from a musical, in case you’re wondering. I recently made a show called Songs for the End of the World, which just finished a UK tour. It’s a big noisy show inspired by Bowie, Tom Waits, and the End of the World.

What are you presenting at Ferment Fortnight?
I’m presenting the first public experiment of something new. It’s called We Can Time Travel. I’m ridiculously excited about it. It’s an experiment in Time Travel, and a story about a version of me from an alternate reality; a hack scientist who believes he’s receiving messages from a Victorian Time Traveler watching the sun die at the edge of Time. It’s a solo piece with loads of live looping, electronics, acapella singing, analogue synths, and storytelling. I’m throwing the kitchen sink at this one.

What inspired/influenced your piece?
Well I wanted to make something about now. I am a huge sci-fi fan. And for me, the best science fiction sheds a light on the present day, It holds a mirror up to society, and often the reflection is pretty ugly. The last few years have seen monumental shifts in our world , Brexit, Refugee Crisis, massive political shifts, evil presidents, monstrous prime ministers, huge inequality – it’s an epic, frightening time and it keeps on coming. And sometimes I feel totally numb to it. I wanted to make something about the pace of change, and how to regain hope, to believe that we can change the future and learn from our past….and also I got a new synth. And it sounds awesome.

What does the work that Ferment do mean to you?
The work Ferment does is vital. Bristol is brimming with inspiring, independent artists, making exceptional work. Ferment gives this community of wonders a platform to take that work to the next stage. And it’s fantastic that Bristol has an audience that’s hungry for new work and to be challenged and surprised by what artists have to offer.

What would you say the audience can expect in three words?
Epic Gig-Theatre.

Ferment Fortnight returns to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre stage 18-20 July. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Ferment Fortnight Preview | A Million Tiny Glitches

Following a blinding week of work at Arnolfini, Ferment Fortnight continues its work-in-progress mini-fest in our theatre 18-29 July. Here, Sleepdogs’ Director and Producer Tanuja Amarasuriya gives us an inside look at A Million Tiny Glitches.

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Tell us a bit about yourself…
We’re Sleepdogs, a collaboration between director / producer Tanuja Amarasuriya and writer / composer Timothy X Atack – although for Ferment we’re also joined by actors Kayla Meikle, Simon Mokhele and Zoe West, and movement director Coral Messam.

What are you presenting at Ferment Fortnight?
Some very very early explorations into an electronic musical called A Million Tiny Glitches. It’s the story of 3 friends, one of whom dies. The two left behind deal with their grief in some extraordinary ways, and one of them effectively builds a city out of their pain, hiding deep within it. The last remaining friend ventures into this strange world to find him. We’ll be playing the bare bones of some songs – in a suitably loud fashion, we hope – with some narrative and movement stuff alongside. There’s been much experimenting with what digital tech can do to live vocals, how onstage movement can complement gig-like or band-like performance styles, that kind of thing… it’s by far the most tentative, early-doors work we’ve ever shown at Ferment, but we hope it’ll be intriguing to anyone who might wonder what could happen when you mash up stage musicals and electronica

What inspired/influenced your piece?
Björk, China Mieville, ANOHNI, FKA Twigs, Wings Of Desire, Back To Back Theatre and Haruki Murakami are among our aesthetic influences for this one. At festivals like Sonar in Barcelona we’ve been particularly taken by the way a lot of electronic musicians have been presenting their gigs: making evocative, moving shows out of what might ostensibly be quite dry ‘one producer and a laptop’ experiences. But the biggest inspirations have been our families and friends in recent years, the shock of losing loved ones in different ways, the things it does to you – both good and bad. We both liked the idea of responding to these life lessons by making a big, joyous, modern musical about those troublesome, age-old, bittersweet puzzles.

What does the work that Ferment do mean to you?
We wouldn’t be where we are without Ferment, on so many levels. Alongside the brilliant audiences, it’s not just that Emma, Helen (and Kate and Lina before them) have encouraged, developed and commissioned our work – it’s the way they feed the broader conversation between everyone making and watching theatre in the city. They rock. And you rock. Yes, you.

What would you say the audience can expect in three words?
Songs / sidechains / bass.

Ferment Fortnight returns to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre stage 18-20 July. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

INKBLOC Ensemble Cast Bio | Alex

Ahead of their debut show, LEGO Beach, we sat down with INKBLOC Ensemble to discover a little more about this year’s Made in Bristol troupe.

Here we caught up with Alex to find out all about her Bristol Old Vic theatre background.

AlexWhat have you been involved in at the Bristol Old Vic and outside of Made in Bristol?
I was in young company for a term and I really enjoyed my time there, so I was determined to maintain my involvement with Bristol Old Vic. With this in mind I helped out back stage with the ‘Under a Cardboard Sea’ production, which was a great experience. Since then I had a role in ‘The Love of the Nightingale’ performance as Niobe, which was an amazing Young Company production to be a part of. Previously, I have studied at the North Bristol post 16 centre doing Drama, Literature and Performing Arts and have always tried to gear my studies towards performance.

What is this year for you?
For me, this year has been a right laugh but also a challenge.

Favourite thing about INKBLOC?
I didn’t expect to gain a place on this programme but when I did it opened up doors to be the best gap year! My favourite thing about INKBLOC is the cracking people; many a time I’ve been in hysterics with the gang, but we always knuckle down and create work and support each other

Plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to start university in September at Bath Spa and study acting.

Tell us something interesting?
I can quote all 9 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race (extraordinary show) and that I have a serious addiction to eating grated cheese out of the bag.

LEGO Beach is INKBLOC Ensemble’s debut show, on Walkabout at 1532 Performing Arts Centre 19-22 July. For more information and to book, click here