Local Director Emily Adams has spent the past three weeks popping into the Table rehearsal room to observe how our Associate Director Zoë Waterman has brought the play from script to stage for its regional premiere. Here, she blogs about her time at the New Vic…
Observer Mondays ~ ‘First Day of School’
They say it takes a village to raise a child and the same could be said for putting on a play. Having been invited to take part in the New Vic’s ‘Observer Mondays’, one morning in May I find myself amidst the buzz and chatter of the New Vic’s cast and crew ‘meet and greet’ on the first day of a rehearsal period and am quickly reminded just how many people play a part in putting together a regional production. As I watch the creative team and cast mingle and introduce themselves, I feel that sense of the first day at school; the excitement, anticipation and slight apprehension of what will come. It’s a wonderful thing to observe and yet another reminder of why I love the theatre; no ice breakers needed here. Cast and crew are continuously thrown into new situations alongside new faces and places and there is rarely time to hold back.
Before long we are taken across to the ‘Workspace’, a large, light and airy room where Tanya Ronder’s play, Table, shall be rehearsed. It’s a gorgeous space and I hear this sentiment echoed by the actors as they are introduced to their creative home for the next few weeks.
Director Zoë Waterman leads on introductions before we listen to a read through of the script. This is the first chance everyone gets to hear the play spoken aloud. It is such a simple concept, but so important to hear the words take shape and begin to lift off the page. It is exciting to be in the room as this happens and Ronder’s play certainly has a lot to it. Spanning six generations of one family, The Bests, and poignantly centred around their family table, the actors play 22 characters between them and travel across two continents. It is impossible to not be moved by the complex, beautiful and sometimes painful stories that are woven around the solid and silent family table and I can’t help but hear the sentiment ‘if these walls could talk’ echo throughout the piece. As Zoë herself says, this is a play about ‘belonging, identity and the things we pass on’ and I am sure that all who watch it will find moments they can relate to within their own family life.
After the read through, we are introduced to designer, Bronia Housman as she talks us through the set and costumes. Everything is intentional in the planning of a production and it is always fascinating to see how designers and directors interpret the script into the very fabric of their set design. The model of the set is left out for the actors to study and sketches of costumes, places within the play and design inspiration are dotted along the rehearsal wall. This handing over of creative vision is vital so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the imaginary world they are creating. Although it is the actors who will finally share this world with us as audience members, it is always good to remember the creative team off stage that have first breathed life into the production.
It has been a wonderful window into a working day at the New Vic. The promise of creative discovery during the rehearsal process has left me excited for my next observation session and I am already looking forward to watching Zoë lead her cast in their exploration of characters, stories and the beautiful tensions so prevalent in family dynamics.