First week of Haroun Rehearsals

The Week in Work
First week of rehearsals for Haroun and the Sea of Stories at East 15, and I’ve been looking at two strands. In the mornings, I’ve been introducing the kind of techniques that I use as a director – Gaullier’s ‘pleasure’ principle and his insistence on actor sensitivity, Anne Bogart and Tina Landau’s Viewpoints and Keith Johnstone’s status work. In the afternoons, the group has been exploring the plot, themes, personal significance and contemporary resonances of the play. What I’ve immediatley noticed is that they are incredibly brilliant at corporeal work, and so bringing this element into the piece is an absolute must. The question I face is how to do that without any Le Coq-style ‘physical theatre’… which I hate. Why do I hate it? Because for me it’s very hackneyed, stuck in the 80s, and obsessed with ornate style over human substance. I’m looking for something a bit fresher; something that maintains a focus on the actors performances as opposed to showing off their gymanstic dexterity. However, the other problem I have is how to create the umpteen landscapes and action sequences with zero money. So lots to be thinking about moving forward. This week coming I want to really nail down some very specific scene and character work, before moving onto the big staging questions…

Shows
I’ve been hard at work in Southend all this week – so no time to watch shows!

Movies / TV
Watched the movie Starlet, by director Sean Baker. A fun, quirky piece – although I wonder how much patience I would have had with its stilted plotting if Drew Hemingway hadn’t been so absolutely gorgeous to watch. Even if it was kinda hackneyed story-wise, the cinematography and soundtrack were utterly fabulous, and it had that relaxed and rough feel that I’m really enjoying at the moment. Still, I wonder how much of me was watching the movie for its artistic merits, and how much of me was just enjoying the scantily clad women…

Music
I listened to Hannah Kendall and Anna Clyne’s hour-long slots on Radio 3’s Composer of the Week. Massively enjoyed both, and Hannah’s epic music I’d of course heard before. Anna Clyne was new to me though, and a revelation – a combination of the electronic sampling with the modernist aesthetic of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Utterly entrancing and can’t wait to explore more.

Reading
I’ve been reading David Selbourne’s account of Peter Brook’s rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s a frustrating account – Selbourne is far more interested in the politics of the rehearsal room, the ethics of the director/actor relationship, his misgivings about ‘director’s theatre’ and his own insecurities as a failing writer. Really, all I care about is what Peter Brook was doing! There are occasional descriptions of rehearsal exercises, but these are few and far between. Still, interesting that Brook was so caustic with his actors, and so harsh on them. It’s not always about being immediately loved by the actors, but pushing them to a place, perhaps of great discomfort, where they will make deep discoveries.

Week Highlights

– A lovely day spent exploring the marshlands of the Thames estuary in Essex. Found an amazing pub located in a boat in Benfleet. Want to go back!

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– Got the Versys back – although significantly damaged…

– Sold the Varadero for £550. Day after I put it in Ebay. Nice!

– Discovered a new composer whose work I love – Anna Clyne

– The weather has been glorious – long may it continue.

The Coming Week
Outside of work, I’m looking forward to Alia moving in tomorrow night, and seeing King Size at the ROH on Friday night. I’m also trying to focus more and more on self-development, and want to spend some time reviewing Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. A very inspiring book that helped me a lot a while back.

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