25 February 2019
It’s been a busy start to my role as the Peter Hall Emerging Artist Fellow at the Rose Theatre – I’ve been lucky to be in rehearsals for two different projects, to start preparations for a third one, and to think ahead to my own show which I’ll be directing in the autumn and which will be announced soon.
I began by observing rehearsals for Zog, the adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler’s story, directed by Mike Shepherd and with music and lyrics by Johnny Flynn. I watched the cast moving between dance, music (playing a large number of different instruments each), working with puppets, learning circus skills, and devising the script – often all in one day! The show has now been in the theatre for the last two weeks, before embarking on its UK tour, and it has been inspiring to see the Rose filled with so many young people watching the show.
I then started rehearsals for Marie Jones’ Stones in His Pockets, directed by Lindsay Posner – I’m the associate director on this production. This brilliant – and at times very dark – comedy tells the story of two extras on a Hollywood movie being filmed in small town in rural Ireland. The two actors (Owen Sharpe and Kevin Trainor) play all the roles – from the Hollywood starlet to the indomitable Mickey, the old extra who has been in every film filmed in Ireland since The Quiet Man! The shifts between different characters happen incredibly quickly – often several in the space of a page and so the actors, Lindsay, and movement director Mike Ashcroft have been working very carefully to develop different physicalities for each role and to explore the ways for the actors to move in between these different roles. At one moment, the two actors play about five different characters each whilst also performing an Irish dance! The actors of course also have to do a large number of different accents each – from the County Kerry accent of the extras, to the American twang of the director, from the Scottish bodyguard to the D4 accent (a particularly wealthy Dublin accent) of the 2nd AD. They’ve been working with accent coach Brendan Gunn to perfect these.
We are about to go into technical rehearsals so we’ve got a busy few days ahead, before sharing the piece with an audience for the first time on Thursday. I’ve also spent much of the last two weeks working with the understudy cast (Stephen Cavanagh and Michael Kiersey) rehearsing all aspects of the staging so that they are ready too. I’ll next be taking Stones in His Pockets on its tour round the UK and Ireland – I’m looking forward to seeing the show develop over the coming weeks and months and to visiting the towns and cities to which it’s touring.
In March, I then start rehearsals for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, directed by Melly Still and adapted by Rona Munro from Louis de Bernières’ novel. It’s about the intertwining love stories in Italian-occupied Greece during the Second World War. The novel and play offer a deeply moving depiction of the impact of war and politics on the lives of individuals, and also of the human ability to transcend the roles that war tries to make them play. It’s going to be a production that involves a lot of movement and music and I’m very excited to be in a rehearsal room watching it all come to life.
Alongside my work on productions, I’ve also had time in the office, getting used to finding my way round the building (and getting lost in the labyrinth of corridors in equal measure!) – and learning more about the programming, producing and creative learning aspects of the theatre.
The opportunity to work across so many different projects has been immensely valuable for me and I can’t wait for the next eight months of my fellowship.
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