After two days of character intense and improv-stodgy preparation, Chloe’s arrival lightened the process significantly with a bit of a changed mode of doing things, and it was super great fun.
Day 3 Log
Chloe started off the day with a quick warm-up of the whole body and then a focus on exploring the movement of every part of your body, from your toes to your elbows. Then she moved into exploring being lead by particular body parts in movement, and moving about the space. We also looked at characters meeting, and a blind character interacting with a still, seeing character.
Next, Chloe drew on Pina Bausch by asking the actors to think of the ‘I am…’ lists we drew up the day before/invent them if they had missed it. Actors thought of words for their character and started to embody those emotional states through movement. Even when people chose states irrelevant of character, there was something to be drawn from the exercise; one of the most fascinating was Lottie doing Fortitude. We began to see the desperation of an angel about to reach the end of her career, and what that can do to a girl who wants to be famous. Also noticeable was the birth of Floss, the second nurse in Agatha’s asylum, who formed under the careful command of the wonderful Lizzy Leech.
Having explored that, we took lunch and then began looking at how characters walk. Chloe asked the actors to consider the very anatomy of walking; what it is that makes their walk their own, and therefore what objective anatomical notes made Nina’s walk, for example, the walk of Nina. As walks were developed, Chloe then warmed up the cast and then had them walking about the streets of London and feeling, but having to hide, disgust, hilarity, offence or sadness at the people around them or at themselves. It was wonderful to see the ways one hides the way they feel, and showed the subtleties of how one masks their feelings.
Chloe then took the cast through a series of choreographed movements to help prepare them for the demands of posture and the dance of the time. Finally we sat down and talked character again, but finally placing the characters into a type of movement; whether they were absurd or natural or performing-natural or natural-performing-absurd or the like.
The final stage of the rehearsal Day 3 was my own creation (well, if you can call it that): an in-character dinner. We went to local student haven and curry heaven King Babas and from the moment poppadoms arrived until the bill was placed on the table, our actors stayed in character. For 90 minutes we met our characters in depth and saw the products of a great deal of work, and we almost didn’t get hated by the other customers. It was really great fun, really drunken, and lead into a wonderful cast social in my living room playing ‘I have never.’
Day 4 started off with a return to the wonderful world of children’s playground games. My knees may never recover after a crawling game of bulldog. Ever. But leapfrog, stuck in the mud (or dizzy scarecrows, as Chloe called it- crazy Northerners) and normal bulldog also all made appearances.
Then the cast tried moving with an exploration of resistance, limitation and expression. It was a really wonderful thing to watch as Chloe played a good fifteen minutes of Chopin with assorted criteria for movement.
With this movement we then went back to exploring character walks, and choosing lines which were either emphatic or fake from the characters. Saying them both over and over again, louder and louder, with more gesticulation, and changing inflection, allowed them to find what suited the character best. It opened up a lot of questions about the characters as a result.
Next we tried performing scenes from the play silently, with only movement to express them; Archie, Nina and Adam at the summer handicap, Miles and Simon at dinner, and the angels and Melrose arriving in Dover.
Finally, we tried improv, in which the audience were allowed to yell out anything for the cast to adopt as part of their characterisation; this ranged from ‘hot’ or ‘itchy’ to ‘Nina is Alan Rickman’, ‘Adam can only move by shimmying’ and ‘Hope is now the embodiment of negative space.’