Grace Cordell - Observer Mondays Director - gives us an insight into the final week of rehearsals for Parliament Square, directed by Jude Christian


This week marks the end of my Observer Mondays placement and since my last blog I have seen a run in front of the building's artistic team; a press night show; a 'normal' show, and the end of a relatively short run before transferring to The Bush theatre.


Lots have changed, script changes and add-ins, a cut character, and a whole section of direction has merged into a completely different thought. What is interesting is that all of this has happened since the last run of the final rehearsal week before we went into tech week. I don't think it's abnormal, certainly from a fairly novice perspective, to assume that by the end of your final rehearsal week you should have a definite, finished, clean show that at most just needs a little polishing or refining. Of course in an ideal world, that would be great but actually highly unrealistic, especially in such a short rehearsal period- and I've learnt that that's okay.

I think it takes a lot of time and effort to continue this hard work into previews, press and onward from the creative team and the actors and to continue that integrity in order to find the best possible version of a production. This team achieves this in leaps and bounds and I think this comes down to what I've referred to often in my other blogs which is importance of good people (see Week 3's blog for what I actually mean by the word 'good'), which may seem obvious but actually what I mean is that if you have a weak link then the effort that goes into fixing relatively small issues is exhaustive. Granted, I wasn't around for the whole rehearsal process but it seemed as if there wasn't a weak link in this team and I think this correlates to such a free / ever-changing / exciting piece of work.

Parliament Square Esther Smith Kat Lois Chimimba Voice Photo Richard Davenport


I sat in on a technical rehearsal session and noted that in between sections of actual tech stuff happening, there are lots of moments of silence and space for technical staff to do what they need to, and actors are kind of just there. Jude liaises with the other designers, lighting designer, sound designer etc throughout. There's a lot that goes into tech and often the actors are left to it because their job is kind of done, now they're expected to stand there and walk here and say that, and in actual fact there's lots of time for Jude (and Jenni) to fine tune as and when she/they can. I'm starting to think that although there was a full week less of rehearsal time than most main stage productions, this time is somehow being made up through the moments Jude can find in tech, in Saturday rehearsals, in evening sessions.

Parliament Square Esther Smith Kat Damola Adelaja Tommy Photo Richard Davenport


Press night was the first night I'd seen the play as a whole and I felt very proud. I feel like my blogs have mainly been positive and perhaps that isn't wholly useful to an outside director looking inwards, but it really has been a positive experience and it's difficult to comment on what challenges might come up in a rehearsal room because any that I've seen in this production have been fixed, or moulded into something useful. Perhaps it's because I've not been around the whole time, or because there's been no pressure on me. Or perhaps it's because there's something very special about being in a room with such an exciting group of people, with new writing, in this eclectic building. There's a reason this is my favourite theatre in the country, and a reason there's such a buzz around this season and this play in particular.

If you missed Parliament Square at the Royal Exchange, you can catch it at The Bush from Nov 30th.

Parliament Square runs 18 - 28 October 2017, Theatre

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