Rehearsals 2019 - Part I

March 13th - 15th 2019

Our first rehearsals since the hiatus from last year. It was lovely having back so much of the "Misanthropos" family. Maximianno spoke very beautifully about what he went through and the joy that nearly the whole cast had returned. 
It was quite emotional, and such a testament both to the production and our rehearsals last year that nearly everyone made sure they were available to come back.
We welcomed new cast member Monica, talked through the few changes to the ensemble, sent our love to one of the actors absent due to a family emergency and got right back into the swinging of rehearsing.

The first treat of the session was a preview of our costumes and some props for a few actors. It made me think of that scene in ITV's 80s TV series of "the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" where Santa Claus ushers the children over one-by-one for their present. And what gifts they were! Each actor individually got to see renderings of their costumes, and a few received props, be it Declan's awesome sword or Sarah's harp (in preparation for the Cithara she'll use in the film). I was so happy when I saw my costume (I might have squealed... a little... or a lot. I probably squealed a lot). For a servant I look goooooood!

This was the first time we'd been back in rehearsal since I was asked to help with a few bits and pieces for the website. Part of that involved unifying the bios of the cast, and it was a very unusal feeling being around actors I had worked with (admitadly briefly, in total possibly 6 days last year) but now, through working on their bios, I knew each one so much better, and had a far great understanding about their lives and experiences. Of the information I had gleamed (all anecdotal, of course) the one that stuck in my mind: two cast members have been trained in person by truly revolutionary theatre practitioners (Lecoq master Jacques Lecoq and "Theatre of the Oppressed" Augusto Boal), Bruce had given a tandem ride to Prince Charles, and Daniel had been apart of cult horror films with Peter Crushing and Denholm Elliot. So I had to talk to him about that, learning of the prosthetic mask they made of his face for the monster, and how they coated his face with clay (with two straws sticking out his nose to breath) and then left him to 'set' over lunch. HA! I was a little awestruck and COMPLETELY intimidated by so many of the casts' resumes. Though it also made me feel much closer to the other actors, and everyone knew who I was this time around. So the whole week, even when we were focusing on scenes, from across the room I got lots of adorable smiles and cheeky winks from my fellow cast mates.

One key focus of these rehearsals was unifying Heidi and Monica in their roles. I feel so bad for Heidi, because talking "as one" with another person, breathing with their breathing, taking the same beat of their lyrical delivery is not easy... and the poor thing had to do it all over again with a new cast member. It was also a lot of fun watching the dance training for Declan, Heidi, Monica and Sarah... during this time Sarah managed to stab herself with the harp. I still have no idea how that happened.

During a lot of the rehearsals I was left to work on the synopsis for the website and complete any gaps in peoples bios. I did feel like a naughty school boy, squirreling cast members away and whispering at the back of the class. Though anytime something went amiss in rehearsal, Maximianno joked everyone has to be on pin tips, less it make it into the blog. Sorry bout it. But I'll only write lovely things, as there is already too much negativity in the world, let's focus on putting out only positives.

After rehearsal one day, I took Sarah and David off to do some audio interviews for the website. It was near impossible to find a quiet cafe, and eventually we settled on interviewing on the top floor of the Barbican (which seemed fitting, as it's one of the most revered theatres in London, and conveniently just round the corner). Alas, success was not destined. I don't know what they were rehearsing, but it involved loud vocals and drum banging. Suffice to say I ended up having to transcribe the audio interviews, as the sound quality was unusable. Foolish Ellis.

Towards the end of the week we got a visit from several of the crew, including DoP Miguel Queiroz. They got straight to work, and began discussion on framing of shots while we rehearsed. It was fascinating seeing this process. As someone who mostly does theatre work, to see a rehearsal with so many crew members walking round, getting close, planning angles, standing above an actor lying on the floor (for the scene, of course)... there really is no intimacy on set, despite (ironically) that being EXACTLY what comes across on the screen. For me personally, the moment that stood out (for selfish reasons) was reworking Lucilius losing his temper after Sempronius turns down aid for Timon. Finding that balance between utter fury and controlled danger in-front of a noble... Maximianno seemed very happy with the results, and getting angry on stage is something I've always struggled with. It's almost through coincidence I had numerous directors in a row at university and beyond who greatly disliked male actors getting angry as "the default" reaction to a situation. They called it "the lazy choice". So I was never really allowed to rage, and therefore never learnt the skill in doing it right. So... progress?

In trying to "evaluate" (if we can call it that, or even if it's my place to make such an assessment?) these March rehearsals compared to the last... one person who really stood out was Martin. It was truly beautiful to see how Flavius has blossomed, all the nuances and layers Martin has added to the role since September. The evolving growth of Alcibiades also stands out. To see the progress from playboy captain to confident general; it's something that has become even clearer this time round.

And lastly, more for amusement, I thought I would mention: in my blog notes during rehearsal, to help me remember what I was going to later write about, I scribbled: "more money... more council with more money, more money." Hmmmm... no idea what that was about. Good job, Wells. HA!