As the Romeo and Juliet company begin the move from the rehearsal room to the magnificent Holy Trinity Church this week, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about this transition to the stage...
The rehearsal room is very special place. It is where the play is pulled apart and then sown back together. It is a private place where we as artists can try out ideas, discuss our thoughts on the characters and themes, where we can fail and succeed in equal measure as we work together to tell our story in the most exciting and careful way. It is a place where we can make choices, play them and then, if we wish to, discard them.
Famously, it is said that 90% of the work that is done in the rehearsal room stays in the rehearsal room, but it is 100% of the process that we all carry with us to the stage, and the audience.
It is a place of discovery and exploration - how do this work if I slow it down, speed it up, laugh on this line, direct it to you, or you, or to myself? Would my character sit at this point? Do they like being here? What time of day is it? What have I been doing since I last saw you? Is it the first time we've met? What happens if I use a stick? Would my character point? Is it better to talk and walk, or just stand still....just some of the thousands of questions we challenge ourselves and each other with everyday to bring Romeo & Juliet to life. And of course, the other 9 actors in the room are doing exactly the same. The rehearsal room is a place of negotiation and listening; after all, 50% of acting is reacting.
For me, it is always a poignant moment when I leave the security of the rehearsal room, as it marks a turning point in the life of the play, and the company. It means that we are now getting towards the moment when we are going to share our work with you, the audience, who have made the journey especially to see us and experience this story. Although it has only been two and half weeks since we all first met, we have become a family, laughed and cried, and explored together this wonderful play.
We've learnt songs, dances, and fights, and now it is getting to the time when we transfer everything to the stage. We may have been wearing our character's shoes for rehearsals (personally, a very important stage on the way to finding your character's physicality, especially when they have heels!), but tomorrow we will add the full costumes: breeches, hats, corsets, bustles, waistcoats and frock coats...and our learning curve of understanding our characters and their world will take another rise towards the performance.
Then there will be the addition of music, lights, distances to cover before we get to the stage, quick changes, negotiating treads (that's the steps up on to the stage), learning your 'journey' around the venue, and of course transferring our rehearsal room performances to this magnificent Georgian church. All in all, it's a very exciting time!
...but before we go, here's some of the rehearsal room's best bits...
Matt Pinches, GSC Co-Founder and actor
Rehearsal photos by Matt Pereira