The first week of rehearsals inevitably involves ‘getting the show on it’s feet’ – the first stage in moving from a script to a drama. There’s in essence two ways of approaching this: firstly, to stage each scene according to a pre-worked out directors blueprint of moves, ‘blocking’ the play or alternatively, to investigate the ideas and potential of each scene through simple ideas, exercises, improvisations or games which attempt to discover the potential for drama and/or dramatic relationships inherent in the script/scene.
We are engaged in a process which makes more use of the second option – which means the Company’s creative experience is more collective, more discovery led, more detailed at an early stage but also ‘slower’, ground is covered less quickly, ideas are shaped in layers of discovery, altered or reformed successively. It’s intrinsically a more open-ended approach to making theatre and one in which less is definitively fixed at an early stage, lines are sometimes chopped or changed to bring additional clarity to the scene or to draw out a new discovery. Actors need a flexible and investigative framework in which the can bring the best of their ideas to the character portrayal.
By the end of day three we have established a strong creative approach which allows the script to move freely across the stage, liberally absorbing visual ideas and sound design elements into the work in idea form to help create the atmosphere’s of Stevenson’s writing, and to respond to the creative question how to evoke its places and rhythms, to set the many scenes for the characters to tell their stories: now an old rambling Scots manse, now a Borders country lane, now Queensferry, now the interior of an 18th century inn, now the hold of a ship….
It’s an exciting phase, one full of potential, and simultaneously full of creative challenges as our early ideas and responses begin to piece themselves coherently together.