Nicole Morris - Observer Mondays Director - gives us an insight into the third week of rehearsals for How My Light Is Spent, Directed by Liz Stevenson

This week I am an Observer Tuesday.

I arrive early to talk to Liz the Director who updates me on last weeks progress. Since last week the company continued to work through the text in sections, developing knowledge of characters, their relationships and giving shape to the piece as a whole, they have now completed this and are looking forward to exploring physicality. The lighting designer joined rehearsals at the end of last week and has shared with the team how light will be integrated into the performance, it can be used to help create sense of space and rooms for specific characters and highlight the disappearance of Jimmy’s character.

Today, the rehearsal room feels busy and exciting as I am introduced to Annie, who is a stage management intern and Polly the movement director.

Polly will be using the morning to is work on character physicalisation to make clear distinctions when multi rolling and to watch the full piece for the first time to consider how movement may help shape this and allow the characters to use the space/stage more effectively.
Physical warm ups take place for the first 45 minutes focussing on concentration, energy, synergy breathing and playfulness. the cast, working both alone and connecting with each other, they are then introduced to a range of exercises that break tension, build energy. With a small cast these activities are useful to keep energy levels high and refocus after intense script work. Next there is a walk through of the whole play, this is the first time it has been tried in its entirety and its fantastic to see how all the work over the previous weeks has been applied.

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It's useful to observe how the director and movement director work together in rehearsals as they share observations and thoughts about the piece before sharing with the wider company. Once again it's clear that this is a two way discussion and calls for collaboration when discussing how to approach characters and find the essence of their physicalisation.

In a brief session before lunch we are introduced to a range of techniques which will help find the essence of the character, their voice and characteristics, furthermore how storytelling can be physicalised to paint the scene rather then playing out every physical action it described in the text.

There is already so much to think about today and it's a really exciting atmosphere as the company break for lunch.

The afternoon offers more new exercises. The Director is interested in exploring the relationship between different characters and so the actors have been asked to prepare full biographies for the a Kitty and Jimmy. This insight moves beyond the realms of the text as the actors make decisions about their early years, experiences and family life, based on the previous 2 weeks of development. This exercise is particularly engaging and I notice how much detail and thought has been offered.

The afternoon continues by working they the first third of the text, now including the work that took place in the morning. Liz refers to techniques and decisions that were made with Polly to rehearse scenes and its apparent that taking chances and playing are key. The actors are challenged to offer high energy levels when sharing a new character with the audience and to play their interactions big.

This week it is really clear how the character work is coming to life and the how the time spent studying the script informs the performances we see. I’m keen to come back in next week to see the piece after the next 2 sections have been explored.


How My Light Is Spent runs 24 April - 13 May

How My Light Is Spent runs at The Sherman Theatre 16 - 27 May and The Theatre By The Lake 31 May - 24 June.

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