"Everything that looks like a chair is a chair."
"It feels like hyper reality. A chair is a char."
This conversation might seem unnecessary or ridiculous in any rehearsal room. But Frankenstein seems to be pulling the madness out of all. Things are never quite what they seem. And our company have had more than one moment where it has been necessary to question everything. We have worked on dream sequences this week, mining them for 'psychological richness'. Our Victoria Frankenstein (Polly) tried to balance acceptance and disbelief as reality falls away. What is fantasy? We can't quite be sure yet. But at least we can be sure a chair is a chair!
Other actors have been grappling with who they are. Do they play their role as Victoria perceives them or do they play it as it is? The cast played with choral speaking, synchronized movement and complimentary expression. Together they were able to work towards a world that felt truthfully phantasmagorical.
DR FRANKENSTEIN disrupts perceptions - for the audience, for the actors, for the director. More than one character has reason to believe or disbelieve what their eyes are showing them. Vicky, Racheal and Polly worked hard on Monday dealing with 'What Justine saw?". Elizabeth interrogates Justine's reality in this conflicted scene. Justine's truth does not match that of the wider world. In her heart she believes her interpretation of events to be true, even if it ultimately condemns her. All theatre explore and expose the nature of reality. In this scene, we have grappled with the audience's perceptions of the huge Stage One space. When a space needs to feel close, small and claustrophobic how do we communicate that?
Our creature (Ed Gaughan) struggles with his own misperceptions.
"I could touch the smells, see the words, smell the colours. I had all the words up here, but they wouldn't come out."
It was amazing to see an actor grapple with such a difficult role, and find honesty in that moment.
Meanwhile, in HEDDA GABLER we are also exploring misperceptions and motifs. When is a pistol not a pistol? When it is a metaphor for a beautiful escape. When it embodies a desire for control. Hedda's journey is full of moments where she never quite says what she means. She wishes to influence the world without seeming to influence it. When is a baby not a baby? When it is a manuscript that two lovers wrote together. We looked at the relationship between Eilert (Scott), his book, and Thea (Rachel). Thea, unintentionally, confronts Hedda with her own shortcomings.
Until this week our space has been free to allow the actors to be unconfined as the get to grips with the two texts. This week we had the mark up
We have progressed. We have a mark-up. And as a company we are excited to be working towards set orientation, which isn't without its teething difficulties. Understandable, as currently the ‘set’ is no more than tape on the floor. The wall walking adds a sense of spectral illusion to the dream sequences. Thankfully, as the week draws to a close most of the cast are becoming aware of the limits of their space. It is only our Creature who maintains the ability to walk through masonry. A chair is a chair but empty air may indeed be a wall.