Welcome to the War Zone

And I don’t just mean Christmas parties and Christmas shopping!

Our last two rehearsals have concentrated on the end of the play, which culminated yesterday night with me issuing the instruction ‘anyone who isn’t actually dead at this point can now come back on stage’.

In the first three acts of Julius Caesar only one person dies – Julius Caesar, in the second two, and particularly the fifth, the bodies are piling up faster than you can say: “What bastard doth not” – possibly one of my favourite lines – uttered by Young Cato just before she gets wiped out by a rampaging Octavius and her troops.

These rehearsals have been really tough on the actors, I don’t think I’m the only person who hasn’t left enough energy in store to get to the end of the year, and the chopping and changing of scene, the innumerable entrances and exits make it very hard to get into the swing of the acting.  Even though I had mapped out entrances and exits and shared these with each group, it still proved difficult (for all of us) to know when, where, who, what was going on.  Fortunately most of the actors did still manage the ‘how’.  In fact some of the guys playing smaller roles really impressed me with how much they had invested into these parts, even with all the ‘directing’ going on they still managed some really interesting and moving acting.   And I think that for the actors it is even harder than for me.   Having had detailed discussions with the lighting and sound designers I have a clear idea in my head of how it will look and sound on the stage.   The actors may well have a great imagined world but they are having to overlay it on a children’s nursery getting ready for Christmas and overcome the confusions and uncertainties of these complex scenes.

But it wasn’t all weariness! I did my best to help create the battle atmosphere by buying three toy guns from the pound shop – only discovering when I got them out of the package that they made a (sort of) machine gun noise when you pulled the trigger.  It certainly made it a bit more fun for the soldiers and people did seem to get into the spirit of it!

There will be things that will need to be reworked when we move into a larger rehearsal space and have more ‘extras’ on stage but as we near the end of our pre-Christmas rehearsals and have covered all the scenes (if not with all the actors!) I’m very much looking forward to bringing it all together in the new year for our first run through on 8th January.  In the meantime one more rehearsal to go and then finally every member of the cast will have been to rehearsal!

Outside of the rehearsal space I have been busy setting up Twitter accounts for all the characters.  Right now this is one of my least favourite jobs ever! First I have to set up an email account, then I have to set up the twitter account, then I have to get the account to follow all the other Julius Caesar accounts, and then I have to go back into my own account and add them to the Julius Caesar list I have created.  But it will all be worth it in the end!

Much more fun was my trip out with our Sound Designer.  We went to OccupyLSX outside St Paul’s to see if they were making any ‘protest’ sounds we could record.  In fact they were having a very quiet debate in one of the tents about the economy.  So instead we did vox pops on the question ‘Do you think we are living in a democracy?’ Fascinating stuff.  A full blog on this by the Sound Designer will appear soon on the Southside Players blog page: http://www.southside.wordpress.com  and we will also be sharing some of the results – watch this space.

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