Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Our process so far…

Written by David, Assistant Director of Tricycle Young Company 

We started off mid-September building on company togetherness with Emily our Director. This was a really interesting time as we were getting to know each other. So we did a lot of gaming and improvising with the play in mind and this went on for a couple of weeks. It was good fun!

When Mid-October came we got a second draft of the Wardrobe. We decided not to waste any time and do a standing read-through of the whole play. We did this with everyone taking one scene each and performing with scripts in hands. We realised when watching the read-through – that the play travels through a lot of history and it is very important for the audience to know exactly what time and place the characters are in, to understand and care about each of them.

November was casting month and it took us some time to figure out the best scenes to do with the company we had. I think we’ve selected an interesting mix and it will be a nice combination.  Everyone was excited (as well as relieved) to know what characters they were going to be playing. They could now start character developing and of course, LEARN LINES!

In December we started working on character development and playing with the blocking and staging of the scenes. We ended our winter term on a high and with good spirits after an intensive period of work.

January has involved me running into one rehearsal room and then into another, trying to juggle all the scenes everyone’s doing. The company has continued wonderfully from last term in building on their understanding of their characters and the play as a whole.

Wardrobe 2014 HERE WE GO!!

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

A reminder of the past that speaks to the ‘Heart’…

Written by Matthew, Director - New College Swindon

This is my second year working on the Connections Festival.

Last year New College tackled Jonathan Harvey’s ‘Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy’ a tricky subject matter, but myself and the students soon took to the story and its characters and worked hard to realise the play.

Being accepted again for 2014 was very pleasing and I sat down with relish to read the 10 plays. Well, nine as one still hadn’t been sent out. In reading a play, there will always be something that catches you as a director. It might be a certain speech, a ‘moment’ or even a stage direction that fires your imagination and gets you thinking of how the play can be staged. I have to confess, having read the first nine plays nothing sprang to mind, nothing ‘spoke to me’ or fired up anything…I was worried! Now, that’s not to say that the plays weren’t well written but knowing the actors I had at my disposal and what would work for us, I didn’t feel there was a play that we could tackle.

Finally, play ten came through and I hoped! I read the quote on the front of the script:

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death… I can assure you it’s much, much more important than that.”- Bill Shankly

I knew this quote off by heart! From the age of 4 I had fallen in love with the beautiful game and, more specifically, with Bill Shankly’s Red Machine of Liverpool FC. When growing up when anybody asked me what I wanted to be, I always answered ‘Kenny Dalglish’. I didn’t care that that particular job was taken football and Liverpool were my obsession and my passion.

So, I tore into ‘Hearts’ with total enthusiasm and disbelief that a play about football had fallen into my lap!

Upon reading, I discovered not only a brilliantly hilarious play but memories that came flooding back of playing football with mates and the banter involved. I just kept my fingers crossed that the cast would like it as much as I did! After all, this play was for them and not the overweight director dreaming of glories past and what might have been on the football pitch!

Fortunately, they loved it! I think it speaks to them and their life experiences and also gives them the opportunity to get their teeth into great characters. As one actor put it:

“It’s like ‘The Inbetweeners’…only funnier!”

So, as we approach our first preview performance at our home venue, I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed working on all aspects of ‘Hearts’ and relish the challenge of working again with the play at the country’s oldest theatre, the Bristol Old Vic in March.

Monday, 3 February 2014

PRONOUN – Rehearsal Diary

Written by Laura, West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre company member

Thursday 12 December was our very first read through of Evan Placey’s new play Pronoun, which will be performed by the West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival. We will be performing the play, first in Rehearsal Room 1 in the West Yorkshire Playhouse using an “In the Round Stage.” The second performance will be performed in The Courtyard Theatre as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival.

Pronoun focuses on the struggles and dramas of life as a Transgender teenager. The play follows Josh and Isabella who are childhood sweethearts. They were meant to spend their gap year together, they were meant to be together forever. But when Josh comes back from his family holiday, he is surprised to find his 16 year old best friend, Kyle, engaged and the love of his life has decided she wants to be a boy.

The Youth Theatre was joined by some guests for the very first read through of the play. Youth workers and Young people involved in a Transgender Youth Support Group based in Leeds were invited to the reading as well as Jude Woods who is organizing a Queer Culture Project at the Leeds Art Gallery. Both groups of people will be working closely with the Youth Theatre to help gain an understanding of the issues in the play and to ensure they are addressed sensitively within the performance.

With a few inspirational and spurring words from Artistic Director, James Brining and Associate Director, Mark Rosenblatt - who will be directing Of Mice and Men to be performed in the Quarry Theatre in March next year - we were ready to start the read through. It was great to finally hear the play being read out as a company. Reading the play alone has been interesting but you can’t help but wonder how the actors will interpret the character and text. The read through has always been one of my favourite aspects of the rehearsal process of any play I’ve been in, as it always makes me excited for what’s to come in the future sessions.

Hearing the characters being read out by their respective actors has been enjoyable and exciting and has brought the piece to life and I cannot wait for the next rehearsals to come. I feel very privileged to be a part of a group where important issues are being addressed through the medium of acting. The proof that live performance will continue to challenge audiences, spark conversation and target key issues is something I love to be a part of and I can’t wait to do so!

My next diary entry will be on the topic of our Photo shoot for our promotional poster.