This is Pippa's final blog post. This week she discusses the tech week and the beginning of performances.
Transcript of Podcast
Tech week was fine. Moving from the rehearsal room to the stage wasn’t so much of a shock to me, because I’d acted here before, but for some of the other actors it was quite overwhelming. One of the good things, though, is that you’ve got tour groups coming in quite a lot, so there are always people to play a scene to. Laura [Rogers, Helena] and I hadn’t rehearsed with the corsets on and getting into the space was a challenge; with the lovers there are lots of physical movements and you don’t want to compromise what you’ve done in the rehearsal room. In rehearsals, I was always in jogging-pants and loose t-shirts, so to be in this beautiful costume really helps me to inhabit the character within the time period. These girls are fighting against their Elizabethan upbringing, and the constrictive costumes reflect the emotional journey of their fight. And Mike the designer was there, so if the costume really didn’t feel right, it could be loosened or adjusted. Jan [Hayden-Rolls, Voice Coach], Giles [Block, Text Advisor] and Glynn [MacDonald, Movement] were also around to help us get vocally and physically in the right place. We’ve got ramps, and if we had any problems getting up and down the stage, they were there to sort it out. So it was a technical rehearsal for us as actors, as we were working our way around the space and using the text in a very different way. But the musicians had the biggest changes in tech week. The music is quite complicated and they hadn’t had huge amounts of time to rehearse. This meant there was a delay working around that, as all the music was teched into the show for the first time.
There’s nothing quite like the first night, and even though I’ve acted here before, I was still surprised by what it feels like when you walk out there initially. There’s literally a sea of faces all around you and there’s nowhere to hide on that space, so you have to embrace it. I didn’t find it daunting at all; it’s been exciting, and the rest of the company feels the same way. And it feels like everything comes together and takes your character onto another level. Hermia has a significant emotional journey to go through and in the rehearsal room I’d struggled a bit with that, but I feel like being on stage in front of an audience has improved my performance. Being out in the open where you can actually see the moon and the stars, it’s easier to think outside your world. It is tiring, because there are rehearsals in between the previews as well, but I think the play’s getting tighter and tighter. Jonathan wanted to make the play about two and a half hours long, but in preview it was running over this, so he needed to take off about fifteen minutes. Unfortunately some really beautiful moments had to go. He cut some of the songs that had been written especially for this show, and a lot of the dances were shortened. It’s hard, because you can’t be precious about the things you like; for the sake of making the play shorter, they have to go.
Last night was press night. I was nervous; I had a lot of friends in and lots of people from the business in, but it was good adrenalin. I don’t think anything went wrong and in terms of technical stuff. I think everything went OK, but I’m sure a few people didn’t feel happy with their scenes. We had press in for the matinee as well today, as there was a clash last night with another show opening. That was quite hard, as we wanted to let our hair down last night but couldn’t really. I think a lot of us are looking forward to having the weekend off!
Developing in performance
Now that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is into the run, I think the real challenge is trusting what Jonathan has created – what we’ve all created – and I think the play will naturally deepen as we inhabit the language even more. I want to be really careful about not losing the truthfulness of the play that we have found in rehearsals; sometimes the audience laughs in the same places and you end up asking for laughs or playing for a response. I think this will be a challenge because we’ve got three months, and when one person gets carried away other people can do as well. I think Jonathan’s aware of that and is going to come back every so often to keep an eye on the show. But I still want to go deeper, and to continue to discover more about my character. I’m glad I’ve got the time to do that.
It’s always a pleasure doing evening performances, because as the sky gets darker and darker, we go further into the woods and the storyline gets darker for the lovers. I think there’s something really brilliant about that, and something magical about the way the fairies come out at night. The light changes the way you see the audience; as it gets darker, the house lights come on and everything just looks so much prettier. That’s not taken away in the afternoon, but when it’s really bright, you can’t really see the audience so I suppose you have to invest more of your imagination (and also battle a lot with the planes flying overhead!). So, I think I prefer the play in the evening because there’s something really magical about it and I’m really looking forward to doing the midnight matinee. I think that’ll be quite special.
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as she goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.