As the Museum in Baghdad team moves from London to Stratford, writer Hannah Khalil gives us a taste of the show's props and costumes.

Last week marked the final day of London rehearsals for A Museum in Baghdad and I went prepared… armed with tissues. The team now all relocate to Stratford-upon-Avon for the remainder of rehearsals and beyond. The last few weeks have seen what I’m calling ‘first night creep’ as gradually what’s happening in the rehearsal room gets closer to what will be happening on the Swan stage from 11 October.

For a start, the props are becoming more authentic and detailed, and bits of costume are appearing mixed with the actors' own clothes (this can look quite comical at times); in particular, the shoes are the ‘real thing’ for performance so the actors can get used to them and begin to make them part of their character – informing how they walk and move in character. Scripts are vanishing from hands and Oğuz Kaplangi’s beautiful compositions for the show are being played at the appropriate moments.

A pair of black wedge heel boots pointing towards a pair of white walking boots.
Shoes from the show.

The mantra of ‘October October’ that was so reassuring back in July is becoming more of a heartbeat to the rhythm of a train that’s running away with time. It’s alarming because it’s all going too fast… I want to hold it back because I don’t want this experience to end.

On Friday the actors ‘staggered through’ the first half. It was brilliant for me. Seeing it all coming together was very exciting. It was also extremely useful as it revealed some work that still needs to be done script-wise to get each half of the play the right length. So I’m writing this blog when I should be doing that… 

A museum drawer containing some coloured stone fragments and various utensils.
Props from A Museum in Baghdad.

I’ll get back to work – but on that note I should add one little story.

My daughter came in to visit the rehearsal room one lunchtime last week. She had a magical time, and got to visit the King John rehearsal room too. On the way home, she said, “When you go in to rehearsal, mum, you say you’re going into work. But you really shouldn’t call it that – it’s not work, is it? It’s play.” Of course, she’s entirely right.


Hannah Khalil

I’m Hannah Khalil, a playwright who is still coming to terms with the fact my debut RSC play will be opening at the Swan this autumn. Brace yourself for some emotional blogs from the rehearsal room detailing A Museum in Baghdad's journey to production. You can find me on Twitter @hannykha

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