“So this is Scuttlers” - The first thing said to the whole of the ensemble at our very first rehearsal, by our choreographer, Eddie Kay. This was followed by our director, Wils Wilson, giving the cast a brief introduction on what to expect from the rehearsal process as a whole (a very physical affair!)
We then went into a physical warm up that focused on core strength and stamina, two elements that we’ll be working to improve as an ensemble. This set the tone of what to expect over the coming weeks.
After the warm up, we moved onto exercises that emphasised being ‘one’ as a group, a theme that will be very prominent in creating an authentic street on stage. The exercise that captured this the most was probably the flocking game. This is where the whole ensemble tightly bunches together and has to follow the lead of whoever heads the group, which constantly changes. The head of the flock will set the pace, and any movement they make will be copied exactly by the rest until the head changes.
As not everyone in the group can see the flock head, trusting the person beside you becomes a necessity, ridding any unwanted sense of individuality and promoting the desired sense of unity.
Flocking will also be a good marker for us to see our progress in becoming ‘one’ as the more cohesive the group becomes, the easier, more fluent and more interesting to the viewer flocking will be.
Following a short break, we started a ‘vocal spiral’ exercise where the ensemble walked around the room speaking at a volume dictated by Simon’s hand (increasing and decreasing as he raised and lowered it, and sudden silence at a clenched fist). The point of this exercise was to, again, promote ‘oneness’, but also to explore the vocal requirements in creating an authentic sounding street, with the final aim being the ability to do it without guidance.
Next, we became a very busy street. Walking as if late to work in a narrow channel, bustling and bumping in to each other, we got our first taste of how the Scuttlers will be viewed. As the rest of the group continued, four of us were given the role of a Scuttler passing through the street, with the onus being on the street to get out of the way or else.
The final action of the day saw the ensemble split in two, and a gang leader from each group meet in the centre of the room for a stare down, steadily being backed by more and more of their respective members. The tension builds, and once it’s full gang vs full gang, the verbal sparring, taunting and insults begin, gradually increasing in volume and intensity until at its peak, where the two leaders start a slow motion domino effect that the rest of the gangs follow, creating a very interesting scene indeed.
And with that release of ‘scuttler’ energy that had been building up in us all throughout the day, and a few questions for the director, our first rehearsal was finished. With every exercise we’d done being toward the goal of improving as an ensemble/crowd/gang, there was a communal feeling of “well done” in the air that set things up nicely for next rehearsal.
By Conor Glean - SCUTTLERS Community Ensemble member
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