Actor Richard Katz explores the strangeness of the rehearsal room as he prepares to take on the role of Peer Gynt.

I’m in the funnel now. As I said in my last blog, the early part of the process can feel overwhelming, packed as it is with new information. This is why I find it helpful to think of it as a kind of funnel.

Right now, we’re at the lip; the widest it will ever be. All this newness – music, script, moves, names, ideas.

It’s really incredible, in the first few days, just how much cognitive bombardment there is.

There are, however, a few good things to keep reminding yourself. The first is just how quickly newness can become familiar…

Right now, it’s all unusual, all strange. Much of this first week has been spent learning bits of music, but there’s also tons of lines to learn too; there’s also nothing quite like suddenly finding oneself in a group of new people. Twenty or so new names to ingest is definitely a challenge. Dare I risk calling someone across the room? Chances are I’ll only embarrass us both.

A notepad on the floor with actors rehearsing in the background.
A rehearsal room is full of "newness" that quickly becomes familiar.
Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC Browse and license our images

What’s incredible though, after only a day or two, is just how much seems to stick. I can recognise the melody in music (both actually and metaphorically). I seem to know the names of my colleagues. Then there are all those lines… well, let’s not run before we can walk.

The crucial part to hang on to, then – and this is where the funnel analogy is really helpful – is that the newness feels like it’s narrowing. It’s only been a matter of days, yet one can sense the bombardment is heading directionally. Towards something. Towards making something new, something fresh, something which has never existed quite this way before. That, I think, is always the great thing about starting a fresh project.

The hope remains that this new combination of things will continue to flow in the right direction. From the bowl of the funnel (I mean, is it called a bowl?) and into the tube. And that, as it does so, all of this newness will get combined, mixed, and folded into something good.

Peer Gynt plays in the Swan Theatre from 1 May - 23 September 2020.

Richard Katz

Richard grew up in North London. He’s been a member of various RSC companies over the years, including The Long Ensemble, which saw one group of actors perform a dozen plays over a three year period. He now lives locally and can often be seen sculling up and down the Avon.

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