Production meeting last night, which led to final decisions being made on exactly how many swords and helmets, swallows, gold masks, flag-poles?, things left to construct, things we now don't need to worry about etc. And then of course more ideas arise -things alter - we adapt. And today we battled on literally through Act 4 and 5, having been through 1,2 and 3 yesterday. It is only when you start running that you can shape the play and see the whole as something in itself - the play has a style and a life of its own - suddenly the symbolism of the swallows was being felt - moments seemed to echo one another, leading to braver decisions and more clear character choices. A week until we pack up and head down to The Minack. Lots to do!
Wiggy turned up just at the right moment today with 8 poles, which will be magically transformed into swallows for our production. It took a while to get it right but Luke Walsh and the rest of the cast stepped forward to choreograph the moment in hand. We also finally got to run through the final scene of Act 4 where Antony dies. We welcomed Jessie O'Toole as DSM to the company today.
Quite a lot of excitement today as Wiggy and Ray dropped off the scallop shaped bed which they have been building for the show. Jean turned up with a few more costumes, whilst Ellie filmed a rehearsal trailer and somewhere in between all this we managed to rehearse Antony's bodged death scene. We have pretty much blocked the shape of the play and the afternoon finished with a re-look at the pre-show in costume. Ellie and Luke continued to work on text, using the Folio version to highlight capitals etc - often the First Folio of Shakespeare's works offers insights into how the lines were intended to be delivered. It is amazing how punctuation added by editors at a later date can actually confuse the meaning rather than help it.
We had a shorter day of rehearsals today, but got a lot done. Have also been working on the music for the play. The production will feature the work of international musician Hussein Zahawy as the soundtrack of the piece, famous for his AMAZING playing of the daf. His album ONE WORD is a collaboration with other Middle Eastern musicians and is evocative of the mood we are trying to create with Antony & Cleo. We worked more on Act 5, 2 and on what we are calling The Last Supper scene. Ellie and I revised the pre-show too. Things are coming together!
Detailed work on scenes, prior to a run of Act One and Two. Great to see Wiggy, who brought her model of The Minack to make clear some of the blocking choices - and Penny, who appeared with Ray's newly made Egyptian musical instrument, hand-made from a design he found whilst studying the Egyptian section of The British Museum. Just needs the strings, and Elaine will play it as Charmian in the "Give me some music" scene. Talking of Elaine, she donned her belly dancing costume, which was brought in by costume designer Jean Hammond. She will make an appearance on Pompey's Galley as the triumvir get pi**ed, adding to the chaos of the scene.Also had the idea that she would sing "Cup us Till The World Goes Round", so a new music track to write and work on. The Chair of The Caterham Festival, Andy Parr, popped in to see us at lunch and a quick mention of the staff at Soper Hall, who have made us very welcome - a great venue to rehearse in.
So - Jean, Wiggy, Penny and Ellie headed off to The National Costume Hire to have a look at armour and I am sure it will compliment Jean's hand-made costumes brilliantly. Back in the rehearsal room we tackled the sea battle - Glyn Williams ably choreographing to the brilliant Hussein Zahawy's music. Then, we had a go at the whipping scene and the scene after The Battle Of Actium when Ant and Cleo see each other again - we also worked on Octavia's return to Rome and her time in Athens with Antony. A full day working on text and quite a few laughs in the process. We welcome the excellent Luke Walsh to the cast - an actor local to the area who will also be starring in The Rabbit King at The Arc! - he will be playing Ceasar. So we are getting back on track - in fact it feels like the dream team. And we are all very excited about bringing Antony & Cleopatra to The Minack (pictured) and The Caterham and Purley Festivals. Best of luck to Elliot Young (Menas/Scarus) who will be performing in STOMP this week.
Today we started on Act 5 but did not manage to finish the blocking in the time available. To be honest we have struggled somewhat this week as we are still catching up, following the withdrawal of one of the actors. Personal reasons aside, it never ceases to amaze me how actors can commit to a process and then let down their colleagues by leaving in the first week of rehearsals. The amount of work that goes into pre-production and scheduling can so easily be invalidated by the actions of a single cast member. Perhaps that is why I love theatre - it cannot work without collaboration and a shared passion. I did wonder whether to mention all this disruption, but I think it is relevant to the process of trying to put on a major production. Things don't always go as smoothly as hoped. But that's life! Roll on next week...
My birthday today and I could not have spent it with a more enthusiastic, talented group of people.We looked at the scene when the soldiers hear the strange sound of music in the air, the night before the battle - also a fascinating insight into Shakespeare's use of thou and you (thanks Ellie Chadwick) - which Nicky Chambers (Cleopatra) and I applied to the scene in which Antony tells Cleopatra he must leave Egypt and return to Rome.
Great day rehearsing with a fantastic cast. A real pleasure to be working with this group of actors. Following philosophic chats over coffee in the morning, we staggered through Act One and Two. Egypt is coming alive! The more we work on this play the more enthralled I become about the politics of Rome and the lure of Cleopatra's Egypt.
(by CC) We ploughed on with rehearsals today and managed to get moving on four of the five scenes planned for the day. Have to reshuffle Act 2ii for later in the week due to actor illness. Robert Rowe (Lepidus) returned from Buenos Aires jet lagged but as enthusiastic as ever, with fantastic stories of his appearance in a 4 person version of School For Scandal directed by an old friend of mine who I haven't seen for 20 years. Small world. David Kay and I explored The Soothsayer's relationship with Mark Antony, Andy Fitch tackled Enobarbus' 'barge speech' and we all had a merry time working out the drunk scene on Pompey's galley (note to self - sort belly dancer). Prior to that we spent a good couple of hours working on the messenger scene between Cleopatra (Nicky Chambers) and Alexas (Glyn Williams) and the first Pompey (Andy Mulquin) /Menas (Elliot Young) scene. The detail is coming as we go and we cast are getting in the swing and attacking the language with verve. With two birthdays in the production team today, it turned out to be quite eventful all round.