Today has been an extraordinarily good day, In fact, it has been a day I’ve been looking forward to and longing after for at least the past 48 hours. Today was Sunday! Not a Wednesday, nor a Thursday, not even a good old fashioned Saturday. But a Sunday! And, having been a Sunday, it can only mean one thing: we have had no rehearsals today...at all. “Oh no” I hear the twitter-sphere cry, “Did something go wrong?”, “does everyone hate each other?”, “is the show really going so badly that being in THAT rehearsal room is now unbearable”? Thankfully, the answer to all of these questions is no. Quite the opposite, there’s an energy in the room that comes from knowing you’re working on something good, we really can’t wait to get it in front of an audience.
The actual reason I’m so glad it’s a Sunday is because after a very long week I am absolutely knackered. At Saturday rehearsals yesterday I may have been walking and talking but I don’t think my brain was properly awake until half way through the second run-through of Act. 2 and that probably means I was away with the fairies for around 3hours of rehearsal, not good! This was mostly due to a very long and hard working Friday which itself was followed by a long recording session in the evening. However, it has all been absolutely necessary. Yesterday marked the end of the final week of rehearsals and, as such, we’ve been squeezing as much as we can out of every available hour. Particularly complex has been Act.2 due to the fact that half of it is essentially a giant chase sequence involving a mix of continuous song, character’s appearing to almost instantly disappear again topped off with several fight sequences. Choreographing all of this so that it is safe, keeps its momentum and, most importantly, interesting to watch takes a surprising amount of precision and, therefore, an unsurprisingly long amount of time.
As is customary with rehearsals reaching their end we’ve also begun to ‘run’ the two halves of the show. This is where we finally begin to put all the scenes we’ve been rehearsing and dissecting individually into chronological order and run it from start to finish, without stopping and complete with as many of the props and as much set as production can muster. This allows the actors to work out how each scene blends into the next, to get a feel of the show and discover how quick their costume changes will have to be. For Dominic, our director, it allows him to see how the play looks as a whole and if there’s any glaring issues that need to be resolved or bits that simply don’t work.
Run-throughs are incredibly useful for actors but can be equally infuriating. If you feel something isn’t working with your character it can be frustrating to see others handling their scenes so competently only for you to come in and drop the ball (for me the Minstrel is still not quite what he ought to be). However, all experiences, whether good or bad, are useful and always feed back into your work while Dominic’s notes and observations, which he writes down through the run and then gives to us afterwards, are invaluable. There’s a reason why he’s been in charge of three of the major theatres in Scotland.
So, rehearsals are over and now the Technical rehearsals begin. For the actors this means we move from the rehearsal room to the stage, we get to work in costume and see the finished set which four weeks ago were merely sketches on paper. And here I am on a wintry Sunday evening in Glasgow with the Observer and a big pack of McVities Dark Chocolate digestives to hand, sausages cooking in the kitchen and Abi Morgan’s The Hour on the Tele, waiting for the excitement of the coming week to begin.
‘Sleeping Beauty’ is on at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, from 1 Dec to 6 Jan. For all tickets please contact the box office on: 0141 429 0022, or book online at www.citz.co.uk.