Eunuchs and Al Pacino
October 1, 2012
Well it's been a tough old week. We're all hurting from a particularly long day of acrobatics, and people riding with Lina Johanson again for Boris Godunov rehearsals.
I find myself recalling the months and months I used to have without work of any kind and without any prospects for work. I would have given anything then to be exhausted after a long day's rehearsal, and the moment isn't lost on me now. I'm glad I can remember those times. Nothing was more painful than those dog days, so I can handle some aching muscles.
Over at The Orphan of Zhao rehearsals, I thought I'd take a moment to talk about eunuchs and Al Pacino. Got your attention? The eunuchs in question are four of our secret weapons within the company. They are Susan Momoko Hingley, Siu Hun Li, Joan Iyiola, and Chris Lew Kum Hoi.
Their functions are extensive and they've been working flat out for the audience's future enjoyment.
In trying to identify what our vocabulary is going to be when telling our story, Greg Doran has found the haunting use of the eunuchs throughout the play (as manipulators and facilitators almost) very effective.
In rehearsal of course, this means that our intrepid foursome are on call quite a lot, especially in rehearsals with Al Pacino - the puppet that will serve as one of the characters in the play, The Demon Mastiff! I don't know who named him Al Pacino. But the part does involve a lot of growling and barking, so I guess it fits.
Now it's one thing to get up on stage and do a bit of puppetry and make it amusing. That takes a bit of practice and some degree of sympathising on behalf of the audience. But to create a living, breathing, menacing being in front of your very eyes takes an enormous amount of time and commitment.
It involves hours and hours and hours of back breaking rehearsal, holding stressful body positions for prolonged periods of time, while thinking about breathing patterns, micro movements, focus and blocking etc. And you know what? If you do it properly, the audience will likely never notice nor realise how much work went into it.
It's very inspiring and impressive to see them happily working as hard as they are. They are all the while in the very caring and capable hands of Will Tuckett our wonderful movement director, whose years of experience with the Royal Ballet (and others) provides the perfect sounding board for actors in physically demanding rehearsals.
by Youssef Kerkour
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