Whispers from the Wings

Another day, another play

November 7, 2013

Team work in the rehearsal roomAfter a weekend that allowed all the work we've done on Wolf Hall to gently cook we serve it all up on Monday in what we call a 'stumble-through'.

There were no major crashes and it all seemed to stand up rather well. I imagine it will have given Jeremy a good idea of where to focus some forensic attention when we return to it.

And then we started on Bring up the Bodies. We seem to be moving around the thrust stage with more felicity now and the style of these complex flowing scenes is becoming a common language.

Jeremy Herrin, our lovely director, has us playing 'keepy-uppy' before we start rehearsing, and this week we broke through the double century barrier. It's great for company spirit to be playing as a single team for fun and a common purpose.

Workin' on the chain grab
Bret Yount, our fight director - a large and nimble gum-chewing American - came in to help us with some stuff. The Duke of Suffolk and I must have an undignified squabble over a chain of office and Bret gave us a clear idea of how efficiently and clearly we can tell the story of the moment with minimal risk to ourselves and the chain. He listens to what we're thinking of doing and then just makes it easier, better and safer.

Assembling the relic
I've collected together half a dozen 'reliquaries' to wear round my neck in rehearsal, and they actually do clank now - but perhaps only audibly from the front row. But it's fun to have a choice of saints to support Norfolk's vulnerable moments.

One of them is a bit of wood I picked up outside the rehearsal rooms that I've mounted in a locket I bought online. I'm tempted to label it as part of an arrow stained with the blood of St. Sebastian.

I've also made myself an Earl Marshall's baton like the one in the picture I have of the third Duke. We'll see what the designer and props department think of that! It's odd that in Henry VIII's bling-filled world this symbol of immense importance seems, in the illustration, to have been a mere length of wooden dowel, whereas one I have seen from two hundred years later is absolutely covered in jewels and worked gold.

A bit of an old relic myself 
You will have heard from my fellow blogger, Joey Batey - who is as young as I am old - that we have some dancing to do. Mercifully, for actors and audience alike, the Duke of Norfolk is too old and too self-important to do much dancing.

I still remember doing The Boy Friend a hundred years ago in rep when Louise Jameson, who had to partner me and upon whose toes I regularly trod, would helpfully sing 'sur le ... LIFTer!' when it was time to grab her waist and hoist her into the air. I imagine Louise's scars have healed, but the memories have not.

The business of blogging
It's an odd business, keeping this blog; the work we do in rehearsal is really in preparation for something that is presented for scrutiny only when it is ready (well, that's the theory!), and here I am laying bare to all you lovely and interested Toms, Dicks and Harrys the secret machinations of a rehearsal room protected from the public gaze. Sometimes I feel like a magician betraying my pledge to the Magic Circle. But there is so much more to our business of putting on a play than a bunch of actors talking loudly in fancy dress. I hope you enjoy hearing about it.

Image: team work.

by Nick Day  |  2 comments

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Nov 13, 12:38pm

Dear Mr Day!!
Enjoying reading your blog and cannot wait to see you on stage again!!!!!
Lots of love!!!!

Nov 25, 8:37pm

Love your posts Mr Day - everything adds resonance to what is to come and will give us lots to talk about in the intervals too - especially looking forward to the reliquaries and hoping that they will merit a post of their own some time soon!

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