Cry 'Havoc' and Let Slip the (Sea-)Dogs of War!
June 4, 2013
No, we're putting on Henry V, not Julius Caesar! We continue rehearsals for the summer production, this time getting into individual elements of the fighting.
Weaponry is allocated, and I'm given not one but two boarding axes (real ones – heavy, double-edged weapons intended for no-holds-barred battles to board and capture enemy ships in Nelson's time).
After fending off a sword-brandishing 'French' killer, I find myself pitted against Elsa (I'm 6'5”, heavily built, getting on in years and wielding two vicious axes; she's a bit less than five and a half feet tall, and just taking GCSEs – and armed with a two-foot-long wooden pole!).
Eventually, the fightmaster decides that, despite Elsa's valiant defence, this is too one-sided, and we re-allocate opponents – my new antagonist at least has her own axe to fight me off!
Alongside the combat, we also (obviously) have to go through stage rehearsals – and these are also going well (the director's happy, so they must be – although he says don't get overconfident!).
Great to see characterisations coming through at this stage; Harfleur's Governor is in tears, the French King's getting more and more exasperated and Henry (who has clearly obeyed the command 'Learn the Words', as have several others) is suitably commanding, demanding or cajoling to fit the various scenes.
Worries at the moment? A couple. Lesser characters upstage not reacting to what major characters are doing or saying downstage (but that will come good soon – we hope). A few actors not able to turn up for rehearsals, which makes it more challenging to imagine an empty space is filled, or a stand-in is actually someone else – when you recognise him/her as a completely different character!
by Tim Stoneman
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