I sometimes feel that the opening night of a preview of a show is akin for the director as giving birth; you nurture something for a few months then let it emerges out into the world to meet everyone! However, I have never given birth and I feel my Mother may feel that this is a fairly weak metaphor…
Perhaps instead it is more comparable to sending your child off to their first day of school; the nerves felt when ‘letting go’, losing control of something you have raised in order for it to be developed further through the influence of others, putting your trust in other people to do a good job with your baby. A terrifying prospect but also one that must occur! Thus, previews are an essential part of the development of any production. Without them the production team have no way of knowing how an audience will respond to their creative realisations.
Our previews certainly did their job admirably. Firstly, they gave the cast reassurance that they were able to perform the play in front of an audience – always a bonus when aiming to take a show to Edinburgh for a month! Not only that, but it gave the whole team confidence that the basis of what we are performing is good and with some final tweaks we could have an excellent piece of art on our hands. As such, the previews enabled us to objectify the play and wheedle out the bits and pieces that were not working.
So the week of intensive boot camp rehearsals after previews were dedicated to improving scene transitions, cast bonding over curry, cutting 25 minutes of the performance, more cast bonding over alcohol, some re-blocking, cast over-sharing, going over and over the dances and song (arguments occurred here…), watching ‘The Reader’ for research purposes (and Kate Winslet’s nipples…), but mostly to promoting further character development.
Now, we had already spent a considerable amount of time discussing the character in the Stanislavkian sense of objectives, purpose and generally on an emotional and inner level. This week we went for a different approach by using the idea that it is the physical that influences the psychological. Mainly we discussed and put into practice some of Laban’s theories; we considered the character’s state of tension, their duration, whether their movements were direct or indirect and if they preferred to spend time in the centre of the space or at the edges. This allowed the cast to make distinctions between the physicality of their characters and what the other cast members were doing with theirs. This has certainly added to the production – the characters seem far more engaging than they ever did before and the cast seem more interested in them too!
So with exactly a month to go before the opening night in Edinburgh I am looking forward with only a small (read large…) amount of trepidation to taking my baby to secondary school and seeing how it fairs! We shall see!
The Investigation, 21:00, 5-29 August, Zoo Southside, Venue 82.