Sketches

Post written by: Erin Walcon

Our first Sunday full-day rehearsal for The Woods took place on 3 September. It was, in a sense, a refresher day because we hadn’t seen each other for a month. And coming back into the studio from beach-surf-chill-summer brain is always a little bit of a grind. It was also D-Day for scenic design decisions and the original script – so a big tasky deadline day at the same time.

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The company were buzzing as we sat down to do a read-through of the draft original script for Out of the Woods (the original second half of the show).

This script has been a labour of love in August for Hugh and Chloe and I – and it is a genuinely collaborative document – the product of many writer’s pens during the July Intensive rehearsals and during the Summer Term scratch stages.

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Reading dialogue aloud for the first time is always revealing… it shows which beats will be working and which are awkward – it draws laughs in unexpected places. Certain song lyrics worked beautifully and others not at all. This is what I love about making an original show – the mistakes often prove to be the most magical, and the certainties are never certain.

While we were stumbling over mistakes and certainties in a circle upstairs, the design team was hard at work downstairs, sketching, shaping, creating scenic design elements in the craft room.

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This is absolutely my favourite part of the process – the manic middle bit. Where all the pieces start to fit together (or not) and you have to scrabble around to figure out solutions.

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It’s also where the team really gets to know each other. We figure out where the strengths lie – who we can turn to if we need an emergency fix on something. Who will hold the room while we’re trying to work through the trickiest bits. Who can rescue the scene that isn’t working…

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Here’s the best bit. The person we turn to? Quite a lot of the time, they are a young person on the project. Our company of young performers (artists!) are exceptional, and they’ve been surprising me (again!) this week.

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People stepping up into roles they’ve not taken on before… or younger members of the company showing exceptional potential and real leadership.

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This is what the manic middle brings – unexpected gifts.

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Next weekend, we’ll be performing short excerpts from Out of the Woods at the International Agatha Christie Festival, alongside another young company, Beyond Face.

We are so excited to get the first scenes up on their feet. We’ve scratched this show quite a lot now – once in April, once in July. But this will be our first time sharing the final script form.

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We’re entering the final stages of this process… on Sunday, we’re right back in the rehearsal room, working music and songs. It’s going to be all go until this production goes up in mid-October. I’m loving every minute of it. 🙂

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