Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 5

I can’t believe how quickly these last few weeks have flown by. It feels like only yesterday when we all met for the first time at the meet and greet and now here we are. We have a show on our hands people! 🙂

As last weeks usually go there has been a lot of activity – The musicians joined us for most of the week to rehearse all of the songs and embed them within the scenes; a day was dedicated to hair cuts/dyes and styling (honestly, it felt like Stars in Their Eyes!). We changed and tightened the movement and worked the transitions to make them slicker and more interesting; we had an afternoon of filming for marketing.  Goodness, this week definitely required good organisation. I have to give a shout out to our DSM Jen who has managed the room fantastically with its constant comings and goings (with my help obviously 😉 *cough cough*).

We had our first stagger-through which was really useful for everyone. Jeremy has worked hard with the company on individual scenes so it was great to start pulling all the scenes together into bigger chunks stopping only to tweak bits and pieces. It was great practice for the company and great for us as Creatives to see the full picture. We then dived into our first run through (Eeek!)  joined by a few extra guests from Headlong and I’m glad to say that  it went really well.

Now call me a nerd but I love making notes. I love Detail. Detail Detail Detail. If I could marry Detail I would Lol. But what I love more is when actors implement notes given and you see performances taken to the next level because of those finer details. This was definitely the case when we had our second run-through on Friday which in a way felt like a bigger event –  maybe because it was the final run-through before heading down to Bristol or maybe because we had a larger audience courtesy of the production’s co-producers, which can be completely nerve-wracking but is a necessary stage in any rehearsal process. What is certain though is that everyone Stepped. Up. Their. Game. Listen, if this is what we’re working with at this stage I have no doubt that everyone will knock it out of the park when the show finally kicks of in T – minus 4 days.

Bye Bye London. Hello Bristol. Tech. Previews. Press Night. Here we go!

Speak soon!

Michal x

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at: https://headlong.co.uk/work/junkyard


Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 4

“We’re cooking now” – the perfect statement to round up week four of rehearsals (thanks Kevin) – and we really are cooking up a delicious pot of musical goodness. Every week we’re given new treats; a talented company, a rehearsal set, a trip to the Vench in Bristol and a new trailer. This week we were joined by our musicians and spent half a day, led by our composer Stephen, integrating the band and the company. I’m happy to report that they played nice. N’aww.

As for the rest of the week… we got through the whole play and by early next week – we will have gone through the play twice. We’ve been lucky to have had a five week rehearsal period because it’s meant that the scenes have been given the time and focus that they need. You know one thing that I love about rehearsals is the continuous discovery of story, key moments, character journeys and of the deeper meaning of songs.  There are various modes of storytelling in this production and with the time given we’ve built a strong language – it’s been such a pleasure to be a part of its unfolding.

I can’t wait to share more about costumes. Everytime I go into the production office, I sneak a peak at the rail of clothes – teasing me from the corner of the room – and try and guess what belongs to whom. At least I have a permanent reference by way of fashion vision boards in the rehearsal room to give me a taste of what each character will look like. No doubt, the costumes will play a big part in providing a strong contextual basis for the era in which Junkyard is set, which is important I think – Looking at the ‘then’ to take into the ‘now.’ It will also be interesting to see how the actors transform when they put their characters’ threads on. I have no doubt that they will wear the clothes and not let the clothes wear them. I butchered that quote but you get my drift.

Anywho, week five, the final week in London before heading to Bristol for tech and Press Night. It will be another week of hard-work, discovery and teamwork. *Rubs hands together* Let’s go get’ em.

Michal x

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at: https://headlong.co.uk/work/junkyard


Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 3

What I really love about this production is it’s rhythm and groove – and rightly so! It is a musical after all. So it was quite a treat to start the week with a groove session to see what types of rhythms were waiting to burst out of everyone – which was a’plenty. Stephen and Musical Director Tayo continued to work hard with the company incorporating songs into Jeremy’s staging-process. It’s amazing to see how the songs lift off and extend within the space; Stephen is truly excellent at what he does and his ability to ease the company into unfamiliar territory has been a pleasure to watch. Well done to the company for being able to absorb all the information so far!

This week I’ve been on top of the logistics of the production keeping tabs on what goes where and when and for how long. We’re getting more slick and keeping the communication channels flowing has been instrumental to our success. There’s a nice chilled vibe this week and it’s been interesting to watch Jeremy work with the actors and demonstrate his ability to communicate his ideas with flexibility, flair and (my favourite word again) fun. Every line is met with precision and detail and the actors are encouraged to try things out and go with their instincts. I like this visceral approach!

We’ve also been working hard to use every nook and cranny available on the set and we’ve explored dynamic ways to present the locations within the production.  It made me think about how much a set can be a character in it’s own right offering so many choices. With so much inspiration around it’s no wonder the creative juices have been flowing and ideas have been firing from all corners of the rehearsal room. It’s been an exciting collaborative experience and everyone’s committed to Jeremy’s vision.

The week has flown by yet again. We ended the week with a Saturday morning session with our movement director working on getting those moves super sleek. I have a really great feeling about this production and I hope that audiences who come and see the show really feel the energy and love that has gone into it.

Until next week!

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at: https://headlong.co.uk/work/junkyard


Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 2

WHAT a week it’s been! We’ve officially set up camp and are getting our boots muddy. There’s a lot to do but we’re doing it with a lot of positive energy, focus and my favourite word – Fun. The music is becoming more and more goose-pimply and the movement and choreography is helping to support the journey of characters and the mood of scenes. AND we have a new edition to the Junkyard family – a spanking new rehearsal set to play with…and she’s Gawjuss. Yaass! *finger clicks*

So! Monday morning started off with a grand tour of the rehearsal set by our production manager, Simon. We ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ and asked many questions before we were left to it. It was handy that Simon put markings on the floor to have a clear idea of the three spaces we’ll be performing in – Bristol Old Vic, Theatr Clwyd and The Rose Theatre in Kingston. It was also very informative to have our designer, Chiara Stephenson, in the room this week to shed some light on her vision. So much to take in but our director Jeremy is committed to honouring each element of the production: Stephen’s music, Chiara’s vision for the set and Jack’s words.

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing words come to life and Jeremy wasted no time in getting scenes up on their feet and getting the company comfortable navigating their way around their new home. It’s always so interesting to see how many layers can be revealed when you have the opportunity to feel it in the moment. The cast are already taking risks and making good choices and it’s nice to see our characters becoming more distinct as time goes by. What’s really useful about having a rehearsal set is that we have had the chance to explore the different modes of storytelling, as well as how to best represent different locations.

Speaking of locations, on Wednesday we filmed a trailer for the show at Oasis Gardens Adventure Playground in Stockwell (where I grew up. Zoop! Zoop!). It was so much FUN. It was the first time the company had been in costume; it was like walking into the 70’s. I almost wanted to run home, dig out my disco pants and purchase a purple afro. The company were sure troopers! Despite the cold, the energy was high, there was lots of laughing and joking, shaking and jiving. I won’t say too much about the trailer as I don’t want to spoil the fun but it should give a flavour of what’s to come. Next week we’ll carry on with staging the show, working with props and begin our costume fittings.

Our world is taking shape, and as we continue to unpick and examine the text the more layered the production becomes.

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at: https://headlong.co.uk/work/junkyard


Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.

Junkyard Rehearsal Diary – Week 1

It’s been a great week full of many firsts. The first day. The first sing-song. The first chat. The first stretch. The first play. There’s been a real buzz in the air these last couple of days and it’s been great to get stuck in and start to unravel the world of Junkyard, written by the talented (and lovely) Jack Thorne. It was invaluable to have Jack with us at the start of the week as he gave us insight into his inspiration behind writing a musical depicting the creation of an adventure playground in Bristol; it makes sense that he would pick this location. He has a strong connection to The Vench Adventure Playground in Lockleaze, Bristol, a well-known playground set up in 1979, of which Jack’s father worked and Jack himself played. This connection has been a useful anchor point for us in understanding the Junkyard world and so much ground has been covered. We’ve drawn from different sources this week. There’s been research compiled by myself; research shared by the company covering a range of topics including music, youth culture, carpentry and the Adventure Playground movement to name a few. Tom Williams (researcher and former senior playworker at The Vench) shared his research into shared memories of adventure playgrounds and knowledge of the Adventure Playground movement. Paula Garfield, the artistic director of Deafinitely Theatre, led a very engaging session on her experiences as a deaf adult growing up in the 70’s, which was extremely useful for building the narrative of Loppy, who uses hearing aids.

Discovery and connection are two themes that really resonate with what we have achieved this week via research and text but also through the exploration of music and movement. Songs are beginning to take shape and we’re starting to understand the meaning behind them and their function within the production. Stephen Warbeck, the composer, has done some great work with the cast skilled in being able to bring the gobby, anarchic qualities out of the group as well as the more tender and vulnerable moments. It’s been really enjoyable listening to everyone sing their hearts out and witnessing the infectious, community spirit that takes hold of everyone, including myself; I’m always quietly humming a dodgy harmony!*cheesy grin* Polly Bennett, our movement director, wasted no time in getting our cast up on their feet. It was interesting to see how movement can communicate so much – moods, internal and external conflicts, dynamics between characters and the unique energy that each character expels. Gold. Of course, I scribbled down furiously all the nuggets we could use and play with once getting it up on its feet.

It’s been a whirlwind, with a lot of people coming and going and it has been amazing to share space with people who are passionate about what they do and are supportive of what the production hopes to achieve. Equally, it has been really encouraging to hear of the support from Bristol and the Lockleaze community, including Vench users old and new. This means something to people. No doubt then, one of the highlights of the week was travelling to Bristol on Wednesday to visit the Bristol Old Vic where our Junkyard journey will be kicking off in February. The Bristol Old Vic hosted a launch of the production at the Vench, and rightly so. Jeremy Herrin and the cast talked to press, took photographs, interacted with children and young people that use the playground and also had the opportunity to run-around the playground themselves. I saw how quickly connections were built to a place that brought and continues to bring so much joy, hope and safety to the community that surrounds it. It was so wonderful to speak to Steve who had been connected to the playground since it’s birth, and John who was a playworker for many years. Between them, they told us stories of community, fearlessness, fights, games, drama and special memories. Yes, it was tough at times, but it was clear that the playground was a place of safety and fun that gave the children, and sometimes even the adults, a break from the struggles of life. It was a place to blow off some steam and be free.

It’s truly been a fantastic week and everyone is even more determined to tell an authentic story shedding light on a contemporary issue that sees Adventure Playgrounds across the country slowly closing it’s shutters. Children need Play! Looking forward to Week Two when we will get Junkyard up on it’s feet!

Written by Michal Keyamo
Originally published at: https://headlong.co.uk/work/junkyard


Bristol Old Vic’s Spring Season continues with Junkyard 24 Feb-18 Mar. For more info and to book tickets, click here.