It’s been a busy week.
Last Saturday I saw two very different live shows. In the afternoon I watched Miss Julie at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and in the evening I saw Jerry Seinfeld at the MEN arena. Miss Julie had received rave reviews and was indeed very good, though a little too “one note” overall for my taste; Seinfeld was on blistering form and the whole audience was in stitches for the full 70 minutes. It was a great day!
On Tuesday night I went to a local theatre space to see a production of The Pillowman in which three of the actors from The Crucible were performing. It was great to see them in action – each performing impressively well in a very challenging piece of theatre. I always enjoy watching actors I’m working with perform in other roles; it gives me a new perspective on them and, sometimes, unlocks interesting and different ideas about the characters they are playing in the show on which I’m working.
Wednesday night was filled with a rehearsal for Act 2 of The Crucible. We’re in the middle stage now, where decisions are starting to be made, movements set etc, though exploration is certainly still taking place. At this rehearsal, we stop-started our way through the whole act for the first ninety minutes, asking questions and experimenting with different ways of playing various moments and the impact of different lengths of pause. Some very useful work was done and a nice rhythm began to be established. We finished the rehearsal with a lurch through the final two thirds of the act without stopping. The actors are really beginning to find their characters now, and are clearly working very hard on learning lines, and this run went pleasingly well.
Thursday saw me at a dress rehearsal for a short concert I’m singing in at a tiny theatre space tonight (Saturday). I always enjoy singing with this group – a 6 part a capella group – and it was interesting to be in a new space as we haven’t performed at this theatre before. Our style, especially between pieces, is quite informal, so we had to experiment a bit with the stage and house lighting to find a balance where we could see the audience to interact, while still looking sufficiently lit on stage. I think we found the right settings; we’ll see tonight!
And so, that was my week with theatre. Throughout it, I’ve been reading Colin Clark’s diary “My Week With Marilyn” about the making of the film The Prince and the Show Girl starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. It’s an easy and entertaining read, but also informative and interesting. One aspect I’m finding difficult, though, is its portrayal of Arthur Miller. In the diary, he and Marilyn have just got married, and Miller is presented most unsympathetically as being a major cause of the insecurities which gave Marilyn so much trouble on the set of the film; I find it hard to reconcile the apparently generous, clever and insightful author of The Crucible with the small-minded, selfish man Clark seems to have come across. This may send me to more Miller biographies soon to see if I can get a fuller picture…