We pre-teched Cabbages and Kings tonight. It was a long, drawn out and frankly fairly depressing affair.
With the rain falling we had to retreat to the Students Union for the first three hours. Although the space is big, the acoustics made it hard for the actors to hear each others cues and Ben's playing, the sticky floor made fleet footed entrances and exits near impossible and the bar next door, perhaps angry that we'd booked this predominantly social space for our rehearsal kept their music turned up to the max, despite only having a handful of customers.
At eight rehearsals in the theatre had finished so we could decamp there, but the company seemed out of sorts, moody, tired, distracted and unfocused. It was like wading through treacle.
Part of the problem was that not enough of the Level 1 ensemble company knew the show well enough and although those that have been regularly coming into rehearsals to pick up notes and get an understanding of the shows complexities were trying to help, the weight of ignorance held things up.
Unfortunately the second years didn't rise to the occasion and rather than trying to help, sat on the opposite side of the auditorium chatting amongst themselves, texting and at one ridiculous moment ordering a pizza from Domino's.
The realisation that most of the company had either never been in a tech before nor knew how to operate in one was a shock and is something we must look at seriously next year. By eleven we'd done, but I left feeling very concerned that the lessons actors should have learnt, hadn't really been fixed. Most years the tech settles the work and brings renewed energy as we hit the final runs and the show itself. Tonight it brought fresh fears and a creeping anxiety that we're not quite on this as much as I thought we were.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.