Well I seem to remember back in November starting this blog by saying I was going to attempt to direct ‘democratically’. I don’t think I have been particularly successful in this aim – my January mantra of ‘ruthless optimism’ has turned into a February catch phrase of ‘just fucking act it’! My ambitions for democracy were further dented by seeing the miraculous effects of a bit of army discipline!
As most of the cast play soldiers in the second half of the play (only 3 are exempt) it seemed like a good idea to give them some training in standing to attention, marching and saluting. Fortunately I had been alerted to the fact that one of our number had once served in the military (as an engineer) and could provide some basic training. Thus on Sunday, in the incongruous surroundings of a conference suite in a psychiatric hospital, my cast learnt to be soldiers. Apart from the sort of giggling and back chat that would have you cleaning out latrines for months in the real army, they weren’t all that bad. Even better, after 20 mins of drill the effects lasted almost to the end of the rehearsal period.
Following their ‘salute to the general’ and an interesting spaceing game we did our normal vocal warm up – this is usually slightly cacophonous (which doesn’t particularly matter) with different timings on each vowel sound – but now that they had drilled together they vocalised together! What a marvellous sound – all the way from our pelvic ‘zoo’ to our eyes – we almost would have got our birdsong ‘ki’ in synch had not a fit of giggles interrupted concentration.
Perhaps it was just my imagination that they all seemed a little bit more biddable through the rest of rehearsals? It is more likely that with just over two weeks to go there is a realisation that concentration and effort is now required to create the polish that the show requires before it’s first night on 15th February. It was certainly pleasing to see the translation from practice into scene of salutes, standing to attention, marching off in the approved military style. A little more sprightly-ness on entrances and exits and we shall be there. The next trick will be remembering which army they are allocated to, at one point it looked like Brutus had every single person in the cast and Antony & Octavius had 3 soldiers.
Tickets can be bought at http://www.southsideplayers.org.uk