Good karma for Wolf Hall
March 6, 2014
Our transfer to the Aldwych Theatre has been officially announced, and now we can unzip our lips and talk openly about it. It seems so right to be going to this theatre — for a range of reasons. The RSC had a heyday at the Aldwych in the '60s and '70s, and this beautiful theatre was later to house three phenomenally successful seasons of the company's iconic two-part production of Nicholas Nickleby.
So successful was that show that everybody associated with it received copies of an RSC headed press release saying that, owing to the success of the production, the Royal Shakespeare Company would henceforth be renamed the Royal Dickens Company. Perhaps it wasn't such a surprise when it was discovered that the mischievous hoax was perpetrated by the late great Ken Campell.
Jeremy Herrin might be particularly pleased about the Aldwych because his This House from the National Theatre very nearly went there, but was pipped at the post. It is sad, though, that our move into the theatre is only enabled by another show moving out and a bunch of our colleagues in the business being put out of work sooner than they would wish.
For several in our company this will be the first time in the brashness and brightness of London's West End, and the excitement is palpable.
From Whitehall to Waterside. Such is the intimacy of the Swan Theatre that David Cameron's presence in our audience was unlikely to go unnoticed; when Cromwell said that government should listen to the voice of the people the audience erupted with spontaneous applause. I'm assured our Prime Minister joined in. Afterwards he suggested to Nat Parker that our shows would work magnificently in Westminster Hall. Now there's an idea!
This week some of us are joining in some schools workshops. Maddy Hyland, who was leading one of our sessions, suggested that we explore with the young people how to best use the open thrust stage of the Swan in expressing the given text. We examined a scene with them and then played it rather statically upstage, encouraging suggestions as to how the 'blocking' (the actors' moves) might be improved. Their suggestions were enthusiastic and apposite, and it was remarkable that by implementing their suggestions we arrived very effectively at the same sort of moves that we have developed through rehearsal and preview. Direction by committee. Hmmmm.
Image: DSM Jenny Grand's block in notation in the prompt book for the early part of Scene 11 in Wolf Hall .
by Nick Day
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