September 23rd, 2013
Following the pilot performance of ‘Under Us All’ in Gateshead in May – at which we enjoyed an unexpectedly large turnout and a great deal of positive and constructive feedback – I was made up to hear that we’d been awarded funding from a number of organisations to mount four further performances. Gordon and I are only two days into re-rehearsals, and already it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to reacquaint ourselves with the piece, get back under the skin of the characters and deepen our understanding of the world of the play.
This is the first time I have been involved with remounting a production, and in planning the rehearsals I felt there was a balance to be struck between re-covering the ground we had mapped for ourselves during April’s rehearsals and examining new areas and employing new techniques and approaches to keep ourselves and the piece fresh.
Whilst our previous work, which drew heavily on the influences of Rudolf von Laban and Katie Mitchell – a movement-based theatre practitioner and a disciple of Stanislavski respectively – certainly hasn’t been forgotten or abandoned, it has been illuminating and exciting to consider other avenues of enquiry. Most notably, we’ve been (and will continue to be) considering how the acting methods of Michael Chekhov, nephew of the playwright Anton, can open new doors for us, particularly in relation to developing character, nurturing spontaneity in performance, nourishing the inner lives of the characters and generating atmosphere in the scenes. We have also been making friends with Michael Chekhov’s ‘four brothers’ – the feeling of ease, the feeling of beauty, the feeling of form and the feeling of the whole – and we look forward to getting to know them even better as the rehearsal process continues.
Finally, it’s been exciting to start working with Katy on a new sound design for ‘Under Us All’, which we hope will reinforce the work which Gordon and I are doing in rehearsals. Bringing these elements together over the next two weeks will hopefully be a rewarding and exciting process. Having received public funding from both the Arts Council England and taking place as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2013, we have a clear responsibility to ensure the piece is realised as fully and richly as possible. These two weeks will be spent in pursuit of that goal….