Risk assessments: Richard coned off
July 17, 2013
For the past few weeks the population of Hebden Bridge has been wrapped up with The Handmade Parade (our wonderful carnival) and The Arts Festival.
We have managed several read through rehearsals around my kitchen table, one in a drama studio and several in the woods.
We are also having impromptu rehearsals: anytime a cast member bumps into another cast member they have to rehearse at least one line! So far I have rehearsed in the pub, the town square and while taking my daughter to school and I'm looking forward to my first rehearsal at the supermarket checkout.
Quite a few new cast members and musicians have joined us for this production so lots of informal rehearsing, playing and socialising is helping to bond us together. Although I'm not sure that Catesby nicking Richard's ice cream cone, as I witnessed yesterday, is quite in the spirit of togetherness (note: Catesby and Richard are adults, the children are all much better behaved!)
We have been working on the technicalities of the executions. The murders and beheadings are not scripted in the play so are usually not shown, but obviously we are going to be showing them with as much gory detail as possible.
Various designs and contraptions including boxes hiding severed heads, concealment of heads under cloaks, and bags containing severed heads have been imagined. Embellishments are also under discussion: water bombs containing blood (red dye), and brains (bits of cooked cauliflower) that fly out and splatter the audience… audience participation was never so risky or coerced.
We will also decorate the stage with heads on spikes, including one with a paper crown and a sign reading 'Daddy' (Richard III's father was killed by Lancastrians and his head displayed on a spike wearing a paper crown).
We have been thinking about worst case scenarios – this seems a good idea for an outdoor show in Britain and we are doing sun dances on a daily basis (we are suitably medieval in our belief systems, prophetic dreams are next…).
I think it's also a good idea to give consideration to the following: what to do if your costume or prop blows away, what to do if a random dog wanders onto stage, what to do if you fall off the stage what to do if you forget all your lines, what to do if a spontaneous sword fight breaks out during a particularly poignant scene, what to do if Richmond and Blunt run off to play Pokemon before the final battle.
Past experience tells us these are all to be taken seriously; in addition our Risk Assessment Manager Jack Ketch has issued special warnings about the stage being slippery underfoot…
by Ellen Mateer
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