This is Mo's fourth blog post. This week he discusses technical rehearsals, expensive costumes and his feelings about the opening night.
Transcript of Podcast
Rehearsals this week
There's always a period in rehearsals when you’re very exposed – like on the first day read through because you’ve been reading in your bedroom you know and you’re winning Oscars and BAFTAs! Then there's the next level –like peeling onion layers off - when you get up on your feet and you get a comfort zone reading from the script and then the next level is without the script, then the technical rehearsal and then the real thing on stage.
What's lovely about this company is we’ve always been welcomed to come along to the rehearsals of any of the scenes. Everyone's been busy, we’ve been doing our own stuff, but when I did happen upon other people's scenes it was just lovely and I actually discovered stuff about my character's journey by being there.
Now we are in the final stages of the rehearsals, we’re reaching a point when a certain type of note be given to you [advice from the director]- the notes become more and more subtle because I think the director is seeing more and more of a human being, more and more of the character, so you can afford to really go for it.
When I was working on the text with Giles, we ‘packaged’ the different thoughts my character has and during the earlier stages of the rehearsal I tended to deliver those ‘packages’. One of the things that Dominic has been saying to me is I have to find the bridges quicker - the bits that join up the ideas - and have a through line. I think that's also to do with changing gear and getting your head around the robustness and kind of the multitude of thought that's issuing from one person. Once you become more comfortable with that then – eventually - then it all comes together.
Doing the play all the way through
Everything has intensified this week. The clock has been ticking! I think last week we did four runs – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and that really helped. It was really interesting to see the progress; the first run was just anger and adrenalin, just shouting – when in doubt shout! – and everyone was just terrified. On each of the runs, different ones of us guys seemed to ‘get it’. Probably the best analogy I can think of is surfing – some of us caught the waves on some days and some on other days – but I think everybody had a glimpses here and there throughout.
The first time we started to run it I saw the play as a tragedy for the first time. I saw what Jonathan [who plays Coriolanus] was doing was really quite brilliant in as much as I kept on wanting him to shut his mouth ‘No go and say that you love the people. Show them your wounds and everything will be fine’ but Coriolanus couldn’t do it and I kept on thinking ‘Why not? It's easy’. In terms of how the performance grew I could really see what it has become and it was really touching.
People either love it or hate it – it's the Marmite factor I think! Technical rehearsals are crucial in transforming the play from the rehearsal room with jeans and T- shirts into the real space. It's just fantastic, it's really exciting. I keep on grinning! There's a lot of waiting around, a lot of concentrating. At worst and best it's a chance actually to re-run and work things out with not as much pressure on us as usual because the pressure is really on staging the entrances and the exits. In a normal theatre it would be lighting as well but obviously we don’t have that so very much the emphasis is on the live music, costume changes and working out how things come on and off.
It's just fabulous! Coriolanus is dressed in red, lots of lovely deep reds. I think that's to associate him with Mars, the god of war (Mars – Martius – Coriolanus). My costume is brown and blue for a contrast. I remember Dominic [the director] saying at the auditions that Aufidius is a bit of a show-off, so you’ve got a few things going on – and the colour scheme is different so you can decipher Romans from Volscians.
I’ve got armour. It's made out of chain-mail and leather and I think some people have armour that has much more metal – breastplates and stuff. My costume is very fashionable – I’ve got tassels and a cape! When you’re wearing your costume and you’ve got your sword and your scabbard it just make you feel like you’re really in the part.
The fight scenes have been going really well. We’ve been working out how to do them with the costumes on. We have capes on and they’re very not practical. The capes dig into the Adams apple and around your neck so all these bits and pieces are being worked out to make it smooth and safe. Jonathan and I do a bit of punching and a bit of grappling on the jetties in the yard. It's interesting and our fight master is there so we’re going to be making it safe with him
I have some blood on me at some points. We have to be careful that we don’t get any on our costumes. I got told the other day that my costume costs around £6000 because it's been custom made. The stockings alone cost £200! The feel of wearing the fabric is just amazing.
Feelings about the first night
I was so scared when I got the job that I was preparing weeks in advance so I’ve been scared for quite a while! But actually that's great. It's healthy trepidation. There's got to be some butterflies because that's where the magic is – I keep telling myself that anyway!
These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.