Caminando with the RSC: Previews
July 30, 2012
Week 7. And the previews started. As I mentioned in the previous entry, in Mexico we don't have previews, so it was a difficult concept for me.
Of course the play continues to grow with each performance, it is not as if everything is written in stone once you open, but we arrive at the opening night usually without having tested the play before in front of an audience.
So it was hard for me at first to understand that there were still things to change every day in order for the play to work.
Each day we would get notes by our director and then use the rest of the morning an the afternoon to work on those notes and incorporate them to the evening performance.
To be honest for my character there was only one scene were there was a major blocking change, we had some trouble finding the exact line to begin scene 8 and the rest were little tweaks here and there.
I also spent a day working with Stephen Kemble on my little monologue to the audience. But I talk about this resistance because it was there, and you could see the tension building a bit because opening night was near, and we all wanted to be at our best.
I guess the other thing that I hadn't taken into consideration is that audiences over here are used to previews and there are some people that like to see the process of the play instead of the more finished production they would see after opening night. I say 'more finished' because I don't believe a play stops its growth until the last performance.
And I can see now how having an audience really helps a production - it's a great luxury to have. You can afford to relax a bit more and play certain things slightly different because it is still part of the rehearsal period.
The director has the opportunity to rethink some of her proposals after seeing how the audience reacts or how we as actors react with an audience. So even though it was exhausting, it was a week in which I learned a lot about the way theatre is done in England.
Each day the play would get a little better, the characters would be more fleshed out, we started to relax into the scenes and really play with each other.
It was during this time that we also got to know how the backstage theatre works over here.
The staff are amazing, and very supportive. Every department is watching over every detail.
Did you put your make up on right? Are the shoes hurting you (mine were at the beginning)? Do you have everything in place before you enter? There is a warmth backstage that gives you confidence and makes you feel protected.
One little detail that really surprised us were the cue lights. In Mexico we don't use them and we had never heard of them. To be fair we never have to cross so many doors to get to the stage - our theatres are mainly proscenium theaters, so you stand in the wings and listen for your cue.
And finally it was time to do our press night. After a whole week of previews, press night seemed easy. But you could feel that everyone was slightly more nervous or excited. It was the end of six weeks of hard work, this was it.
To add a little pressure, our artistic director from Mexico came to the show, and we really wanted to hear his opinion of our work. He was very proud of us.
It was a fun night, with drinks at the Swan Bar afterwards. I was very happy that we had finally opened. Now we would start the next process, enjoying the play and letting it grow.
by Andres Weiss
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