Local Director Emily Adams has spent the past few months 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…
My final day of observations allows me to watch a relaxed run through of the show before the play moves into the theatre. It was great to see the play in its entirety and even in this informal run through, I get to see the characters stories woven together and hear the singing arrangements in their entirety. I am moved by scenes between characters as I watch them fight, grieve and comfort one another. Although there are so many moments of pain in this beautiful piece, the final scene between Gideon and his granddaughter, Su-Lin stirs in me the feeling of hopefulness amidst such brokenness.
That evening, I return to the theatre to observe their first tech rehearsal. I note, and try to not be too smug about this, the feeling of relief to be merely watching a tech, rather than having to be involved in it. Technical rehearsals are hard work. Absolutely necessary, but hard work. By the time a production has reached tech, ideally, all the creative decisions have been made. It is now precious time for the technical team to programme in all the lights and sound and for the actors to get used to costume, props and any set changes, and in the case for this particular play, a flying table. This takes time and there is a lot of necessary starting and stopping. It is wonderful to watch though. The table looks stunning bathed in warm light and there is much discussion over which lights best heighten certain moments within scenes. With so many character changes and a nonlinear plot, a lighting cue really can be the difference between an audience member following the story to them getting completely lost amidst the narrative. Daniella Beattie is the New Vic’s Chief Electrician and Resident Lighting Designer and her nuanced style helps to lift the play whilst subtlety guiding the audience’s eye to important moments within the story. As the tech rehearsal rolls on, I move to sit behind composer Ed Lewis and his sound engineer. It is fascinating to hear them quietly discuss sound cues using all sorts of technical jargon that rather bamboozle my non-technical brain. But that is another beautiful thing about theatre. It is not just for the actors or directors. It is for those that love the creating, editing and tweaking of music. It is for those that have an eye for detail be that costume, props or hair. It is for those that notice light and how a small adjustment in its shade can change a mood. Storytellers come in all formats.
It has been a good final day for my Observer Mondays and I am glad that I still have another two chances to see the play performed. These kind of opportunities for local directors and creatives are so important. To view other director’s creative process is invaluable in bettering one’s own. With a lot of talk at the moment about female representation in the arts and how we can improve this, this kind of opportunity becomes even more invaluable to a female director like myself. Whilst being interviewed on Radio Four, Director Carrie Cracknell gave this glorious piece of advice to female directors; ‘Get fit, get good, get ready’. With the New Vic’s willingness to open its creative doors, I think it is fair to say they are playing their part to enable just this. Long may it continue.