Hello Ladies & Gents,
Welcome to my first blog from the 2018 Swan Theatre season. My name is Graeme Brookes and I am in both The Duchess of Malfi and The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich. I'll be blogging until Malfi closes, keeping you all up to date with the goings on and behind the scenes stuff, as well as all the laughter, death, frivolities, death, comedy and did I say death? You take a guess at which bits relate to which show.
We’ve been rehearsing the shows since December. We did a week on each show prior to Christmas and then returned permanently to London on 2 January. I am writing this to you from the not-so-sunny Black Country (Walsall represent, Yo!) as we’ve just finished our last rehearsal day in London and we’ve all gone home ready to move to Stratford (or have a break). How it works . . . The Malfi cast are moving this weekend, whilst the Mrs Rich cast enjoy a 2-week break. The Malfi cast will rehearse until we open on 1 March. Once that opens, the cast and crew for Mrs Rich move to Stratford and then rehearse daily (whilst still performing Malfi at night) until Mrs Rich opens on 23 March. Then we will alternate shows.
I have to be careful in these blogs to make sure I don’t give away any spoilers so I’ll tiptoe around, but I can say that being part of both casts has been rather crazy and beautifully confusing.
Here comes the sell job...
...The Duchess of Malfi is a beautiful play. Very dark, epic, emotive and aggressive. Our director, Maria Aberg, is really embracing all of that and pushing us as actors to go to ‘that place’, so to speak. As a play, it's in your face and takes no prisoners. And Mrs Rich is a gem! A beautiful restoration play that is full of comedy and colour with some hilarious characters, crazy plot twists, mischief, songs and animals! I promise you, you will laugh a lot!***
Having read that – now imagine bouncing between those rehearsal rooms. It makes you dizzy because they’re so diametrically opposed. It's how I imagine Dorothy felt going from black and white in Kansas to colour in Oz (what an awful reference!). Or maybe going to a club where they have two rooms, one playing Scandinavian Death Metal and the other playing Wham! (that’s a little better). Either way, the rehearsals have been great. Both casts get on well and all seems good for the summer (I have to say that bit: I am not allowed to tell you about the massive Anchorman-style brawls that have taken place). No, seriously, we all get along and plans are being made amongst both casts for writing clubs, reading clubs, poker nights and football games. A number of us are even contemplating entering the Shakespeare half marathon in May! You’ll hear all about them when they happen.
I have been told I have a 600-word count (which I’ve already broken) so I’ll stop now because I can easily turn this into War and Peace. I’m an actor, so I naturally love my own voice AND my own writings so that count is probably for the best! I’ll write another one of these once Malfi has opened and Mrs Rich is back rehearsing and kicking some heavy duty booty.
Thanks for reading and take care.
***If that made you think “Oh, I so have to go and see BOTH plays now”, tell box office that Graeme’s blog sold it to you so I can then ask Greg Doran for commission (I won’t really. I am too scared and will continue doing that loved up sigh and smile like I am 12 and meeting Justin Bieber).