Every Picture Tells A Story

I love rehearsing. It’s probably my favourite way to spend my time, which is lucky as it’s a huge part of my job! I love the focus a really good company has in rehearsal and how everyday issues melt away in the challenge and fun of exploring a text or devising a show – discovering the best way to tell stories.

I’ve been very fortunate with my last (ELART Productions’ All the World’s A Stage – Shakespeare/Rucastle) and current show (The Rose Company’s Iphigenia – Lady Jane Lumley) to have 2 willing – and able – photographers to capture some rehearsal moments. Do take a look:

 

Introducing Iphigenia to her baby brother Orestes!

Introducing Iphigenia to her baby brother Orestes!

Some directing - at least, I think that's what I'm doing.

Some directing – at least, I think that’s what I’m doing.

Clytemnestra and Senex

Clytemnestra and Senex

Clytemnestra and Achilles

Clytemnestra and Achilles

Iphigenia

Iphigenia

Clytemnestra

Clytemnestra

The Chorus.

The Chorus.

Agamemnon confronted by Iphigenia and Clytemnestra

Agamemnon confronted by Iphigenia and Clytemnestra

Agamemnon isolated.

Agamemnon isolated.

Clytemnestra and Chorus

Clytemnestra and Chorus

Iphigenia and Agamemnon

Iphigenia and Agamemnon

The Mechanicals dance.

The Mechanicals dance.

Looks like I want to join in! (I didn't.)

Looks like I want to join in! (I didn’t.)

Directing the dance.

Directing the dance.

Having fun.

Having fun.

Lord Capulet - scary!

Lord Capulet – scary!

Waiting in the wings (well, sort of)

Waiting in the wings (well, sort of)

The witches (trying to fly?)

The witches (trying to fly?)

Portia- deep in thought

Portia- deep in thought

All the World's A Stage

All the World’s A Stage

Applauding my own show!

Applauding my own show!

"Our revels now are ended."

“Our revels now are ended.”

Waiting to dance

Waiting to dance

Lion!

Lion!

Pyramus and Moon

Pyramus and Moon

The Mechanicals perform

The Mechanicals perform

Wall, Pyramus and Thisbe

Wall, Pyramus and Thisbe

The Mechanicals prepare

The Mechanicals prepare

Portia, Antonio and Bassanio

Portia, Antonio and Bassanio

The witches

The witches

Cleopatra on the run.

Cleopatra on the run.

Cleopatra on the attack

Cleopatra on the attack

Cleopatra's tantrum

Cleopatra’s tantrum

Clarence's death

Clarence’s death

The Fool

The Fool

Hamlet

Hamlet

Richard 3

Richard 3

The Rose’s Company’s Iphigenia happens in 9 days from now, so lots more rehearsal hours beckon.

That’s great!

elaru xx

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Feeling Connected

I’ve just waved my cousin off on a big adventure. He’s emigrating to Australia and starting a new life with his wonderful partner. He’s one of my favourite people in the world; we’re very close and I know I’m going to miss him hugely. But I am very proud of him and thrilled about the adventure upon which he is embarking.

Technology is going to help enormously. All his family and friends will be able to email, facebook, tweet, Skype, phone etc… and once he is fully settled, we won’t feel (I hope) all that disconnected at all. What an amazing world we live in!

So, how does this link to my current theatre project with The Rose Company? Tenuously, but importantly, through the idea of connection. The Rose Company, as stated a few posts ago is newly formed, so we need to get to know each other – to feel connected as a company – to start to trust each other and each other’s ways of working. There is no quick way of doing this, but, hopefully, slowly but surely over the rehearsal period this should begin to happen.

Additionally, though, there is the connection through time to the writer Lady Jane Lumley, who wrote the play we are performing well over 400 years ago, and in her turn she must have felt a connection to the Euripides’ Iphigenia, which apparently premiered in 405 BC! It’s amazing to me how characters from such time-scales can still be so relevant and immediate today, but they are. They really are! I already feel an incredible connection to Iphigenia and Clytemnestra, to name but two – and not just because of the plight they find themselves in. In Lady Jane Lumley’s hands, at least, they are strong, passionate women about whom it is very easy to care and respond strongly to.

Amazingly, to accompany the play – or bookend really, as we are using it at the beginning and end – we are using a tune suggested by a member of the cast: Seikilos Epitaph, which is the oldest surviving complete musical composition in the world – thought to be from the 1st century BC. It’s a beautiful, haunting little melody – entirely appropriate for our production and with lovely moving lyrics which I’ll reproduce when we’ve decided exactly the form they will take for us.

I find the idea of being connected through theatre to dates like 1st century BC (and obviously 405 BC with the Ipigenia premiere) somewhat mind-blowing – and very, very exciting.  

Here are just a few photos of the Rose Company in action in our first rehearsals:

 

 

 

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Yours – connected-ly,

elaru xx

The Dell, Part 3 (more clips)

Welcome to part 3 of my coverage of our day at The Dell. This will probably be the final post specifically about The Dell as I start rehearsals tomorrow with The Rose Company (introduced in an earlier post) for Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia, a play we are performing in The Minghella Theatre at Reading University on July 9th.

More on that soon, but, for now The Dell: here follows a series of video clips (once again filmed inexpertly by me – apologies for poor quality at times and some strange cut-offs; a quick cut-off generally means I had to be somewhere else to do something!). However, they certainly give a flavour of our work, so I hope you enjoy them. One of the things I am most pleased about when I view them is the fact that audience laughter and appreciation can clearly be heard – there is nothing more satisfying for a director to hear and sense positive audience response; it’s what we strive for!

The first one is one of the most serious scenes, which worked beautifully on the day: Lord Capulet berating Juliet for refusing to marry Paris.

And now a couple of short clips of the 3 witches in action. Crazy witches!

A burst of Cleopatra (very poor sound quality, I’m afraid, but the acting is fab!).

And finally some Mechanicals – the whole company in action.

I hope you enjoyed getting a taste of the show. Next time (I really, really hope there’s a next time!) come and see The Dell for yourselves.

elaru xxx

The Dell, Part 2 (some pics and clips)

If you read my first blog about our day in The Dell, you will probably have sensed my enthusiasm and excitement! Here are a selection of pictures and video links, which will hopefully give you a sense of why it was such a great day.

I know I put this image in the last post, but, come on, we're right under the RSC logo - you can't blame me for using it again!

I know I put this image in the last post, but, come on, we’re right under the RSC logo – you can’t blame me for using it again!

Our first (and only!) rehearsal - a speed-run pre-show. Saturday 8th June 10.30am.

Our first (and only!) rehearsal – a speed-run pre-show. Saturday 8th June 10.30am.

A physical warm up: how many actors does it take to put up a gazebo?!

A physical warm up: how many actors does it take to put up a gazebo?!

Action amidst the audience

Action amidst the audience

Lear, Kent and the Fool (with a raging storm from my laptop and mini-speakers!) I love this action shot!

Lear, Kent and the Fool (with a raging storm from my laptop and mini-speakers!) I love this action shot!

Lord Capulet and Juliet.

Lord Capulet and Juliet.

Portia takes charge of the courtroom

Portia takes charge of the courtroom

Two Mechanicals waiting for their turn!

Two Mechanicals waiting for their turn!

Pyramus and Thisbe with "vile Wall".

Pyramus and Thisbe with “vile Wall”.

The cast between shows.

The cast between shows.

The Merchant of Venice (taken from under the tree from where I operated sound effects and music.)

The Merchant of Venice (taken from under the tree from where I operated sound effects and music.)

Team ELART! Mum, my cousin and me.

Team ELART with Pimms! Mum, my cousin and me.

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And here are three short video clips of bits of the show (apologies for some of the rubbish filming – I was ineffectively multi-tasking!). If we are luck enough to go again (or do anything similar), I’d love to film a show properly (volunteer film-makers, please?) Or, preferably perhaps, take a techie and stage manager (Daniel and Mike, if you’re reading this, you’d be first choices!) so I could just film…

There are more videos, but I’m out of time for today. More uploading soon.

Hope you’ve enjoyed sharing our amazing day!

elaru xx

The Dell, RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon!

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ELART top left - directly under RSC logo!

ELART top left – directly under RSC logo!

It’s been a very exciting weekend, with yesterday – our day in The Dell –  amazingly exceeding expectations (and my expectations had been high!). The weather was incredibly kind, and the audiences for both shows were large and appreciative.

There were many highlights and simply watching the cast perform with skill and energy, clearly charming and engaging the crowd, was a fantastic experience – one of my very best theatre experiences ever. I could hardly believe where we were – performing Shakespeare in Stratford under the auspices of the RSC. Wow!

Neither show ran without a hitch (when do they ever?!); indeed, a handful of lines were dropped (no prompting, just very quick recoveries); one witch’s speech was inadvertently cut; and the chorus boy actor’s balloon boobs blew away in the second show (don’t ask!). But none of these things affected the way the shows came across and the lovely, helpful and friendly RSC team told us audience feedback was great. Several audience members went out of their way to tell us themselves – a couple as we were sunning ourselves in the beer garden with our post-show pints!  A number of them also asked about our crowdfunding (link – just in case anyone hasn’t seen it: http://www.sponsume.com/project/elart-productions) and clearly would like to support our future work. It felt great to make new friends!

Another highlight, though, was the support of old friends – ELART regulars: my mum and cousin travelled to see the show as did some family members of  some of the actors, and I had a lovely surprise when a school friend of mine suddenly appeared in The Dell before the second show; I had had no idea she intended to be there!

Additionally, I (and I’m sure my cast) learned an enormous amount from the experience. I’m not particularly experienced with outdoor theatre, and certainly getting into a brand new outdoor space less than 2 hours before a show is a challenge to say the least. It was a real privilege to learn  in such a wonderful setting.

Finally for now, thank you so much to any of my cast who read this: I’ve loved working with you and look forward to doing so again. I hope all the other companies performing in Stratford this summer have as good a time as we did, and I will certainly be applying to The Dell again in the future…

Whew!

elaru xx

 

 

And we’re off…!

So, that’s another Dress Rehearsal down.

As an actor (not that I was ever a particularly good one), I always used to get a huge buzz after a dress rehearsal and an enormous post-show low. As a director, the pattern is different: I get a low of sorts post-dress rehearsal – possibly because my real work is done and I am effectively redundant, though hopefully still useful for moral support at the very least.

However, I don’t want this to be a low post… because we’re off to Stratford tomorrow afternoon. I am still absurdly excited when I think about it! The Dress Rehearsal was extremely promising, and I am really looking forward to seeing what my truly talented cast make of their show – definitely their show now! – on Saturday.

Think of us – and come to watch, if you can – The Dell 12 noon and 3pm – we’d love to see you there. (You can also support our crowdfunding until the 31st July – http://www.sponsume.com/project/elart-productions).

And we’re off…!

elaru xx