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. 

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.


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.


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. 

INKBLOC Ensemble Rehearsal Diary – Week 7

Intensive rehearsals continue ahead of INKBLOC Ensemble’s debut show LEGO BeachHere, company member Krista spills all the beans about the very latest INKBLOC shenanigans.

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This is it. The half way mark has been reached. There’s no turning back. It’s all very dramatic. The company entered the room on a mildly sunny Monday morning with their battle armour at the ready. Producer Amy has schedules in hand, MD Alison juggles every quirky instrument ever made, whilst costume designer Jennie wears her measuring tape like a neck scarf. And me you ask? Well I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich in one hand and a notebook larger than life in the other. What more does an associate director need?

After Mondays rehearsal we filmed a video explaining how to get to 1532 Performing Arts Centre, the space in which LEGO Beach will set sail into the world, and like tuna swimming around the ocean we know you’re going to be hooked.

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It’s been a tiring week for every member of the company as we plough through scene by scene, cleverly guided by our much loved director Claire Crawford. ‘The anoraks’, played by the ensemble, have been a focus for us in the rehearsal room this week. They are at the core of our piece, tying loose ends together and driving the action forward as the plot thickens for Lou and Jo. If our piece was a song it would definitely be a mix between Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and Survivors ‘Eye of the Tiger’. Intrigued? I would be as well.

On Thursday afternoon we all headed over to Monica Wills House to visit the chat-back group we had previously done an intergenerational project with. Once everybody had had a cup of tea, one too many biscuits and a natter we shared a few snippets from material we’ve created. It went down a treat.

It’s been a busy week to say the least, but it’s all part of the fun that comes with being an INKBLOC member. We’re moving full steam ahead into week 7 of rehearsals and there’s only one question on everyone’s mind…will be beat our high score of 50 in fives?

INKBLOC Ensemble are this year’s resident Made in Bristol company – Bristol Old Vic’s theatre training course for ages 18-25. For more information about the programme, click here.