In last week’s rehearsal we were meant to focus on finishing our first read through…we read 10 pages. One line, “you know what mum would say”, sparked the question, “what does she say?” or rather, “what do our mums say?”. With that, we all listed the little things that we hear/heard in our own homes from those who we are dependent; whether that be mum, dad, sibling, aunt, uncle etc. There was much laughter at the oddities of each family’s little quirks and moments of “my mum says that”, and we found commonalities with the echoes of mums shouting “if I get to three” or “it’s like Blackpool illuminations in here”. We’d love to hear the phrases that remind you of home so do share some in the comments!
With the production being developed by the cast playing the roles in collaboration with their peers, we were able to select those phrases that are common amongst us all, things we all own and save these as sources for improvisations when we return to the studio. As a director I am very much inspired by Ariane Mnouchkine and Théâtre du Soleil in terms of the importance of improvisation and the “ownership” of a role, “… actors had to give up in the first phase any notion of owning a role or even an improvised moment- a moment that would often be slipped into another actors repertory” (Judith Miller). When asked by Andrew Dixon for The Guardian why Mnouchkine thought improvisation was so important, she responded with the following:
“It is a strange question, because would you ask an author why ink is important? It’s a way of writing. In our company, actors are really the authors.” Even when they’re dealing with a pre-existing text? “Theatre is not only what you say, it’s what you do. It’s the reaction that has to be caught, it’s the mood, the emotion, the state of mind.”
As the writer, Isabel is there ready to catch these moments too and we are almost all co-authors of the memories we are building for Liam and Chelsey, fleshing out the relationship they had with their Mum. Even if we don’t hear these things as an audience they serve as a little bit of that needed subtext that can drive the performance between them all on stage…an unspoken play transparent in their physicality.
So, we may have only read 10 pages but we have created many possible structures for future “in the flesh” improvisations and the collaboration between creatives gets stronger. Here’s a couple of moments from the read through for you to enjoy. The first is Dominic playing Liam and the second, Kayleigh who plays Chelsey (please note the second recording is not appropriate for young ears!)