Francesca Waite - Observer Mondays Director - gives us an insight into the third week of rehearsals for The Almighty Sometimes, directed by Katy Rudd

OBSERVATION ON REHEARSAL WEEK OF 22 JAN 2018

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

The second half of the rehearsal period and everyone seems very relaxed. Week 3 begins with Katy Rudd (Director) giving notes to the actors following the first run of Act 1 at the end of week 2. The run has allowed the actors to get into their stride and Katy's notes are big, rather than small, detailed notes. She reminds them to think before the line and to chart the character's progress physically, in stages. These are really useful notes that can be easily forgotten during a first run, with all the tension they involve. Vicki (Movement Director) leads the warm up, while Atri (Assistant Director) writes up these notes.

Vicki continues to lead the morning's rehearsals with more input from Katy than in week 2. These are movement exercises that provide the cast with a relationship background to their characters, that may also be used in production. After the exercise Katy asks the actor how they felt, before making slight alterations to the sequence and trying that. The exercises give the actors an insight into how their character must feel in relation to the other and provides opportunity for their relationship to be shared with an audience as a physical picture.

Image of The Almighty Sometimes Rehearsals, Royal Exchange Theatre

Katy gives the actors an improvisation exercise, asking them to tell each other a memory they have of the other that made them laugh. The actors choose really unusual and creative memories that paint a vivid and unique picture of their shared history. After this, they share something that surprised them about the other and a memory of a time the other had hurt them. The shift in these improvisations was really interesting to watch. I was delighted to see that such a simple task could reap truly insightful, honest results. The next improvisation allowed us to see a moment in the story that we don't get to see in the play, but that could lead into a scene that is in the play. This appeared to be useful to the actor to give them the run up to the scene and to imagine how their character would feel in that moment.

The rehearsal photographer was welcomed into the afternoon's rehearsal, which began with a movement scene. The actors would play the scene and be given notes for another go and so on. They were never interrupted mid-scene, but allowed to stay in the moment, to try it again in a different way the next time. This led onto a read of the following scene around the table, with time for discussion and uniting, before getting the scene onto it's feet in the space.

TRUST

Katy began day 1 of rehearsals by telling the company that the room is a safe and open space to allow for trial and error from everyone involved, which she regularly reminds them during the process. This has meant that the rehearsal process has been fluid and never seems to get stuck, because the actors trust the process and there is a supportive relationship between them, the director and the movement director.

IMPROVISATION

Katy brings improvisations into the process early on, to allow for it to be a comfortable way of working through the scenes. She writes notes from the improvisations to find discoveries of what worked and what didn't. The actors had chance to do some background improvisation in the first week to feed into their back story. I was keen to see that Katy finds improvisations useful in the process to tap into the character's background and their relationships. Often this can be disregarded as homework for actors, but in this ensemble piece it has proved a useful tool.

Image of The Almighty Sometimes Rehearsals, Royal Exchange Theatre


The Almighty Sometimes runs 9 - 24 February 2018, Theatre

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