Assistant director's journal: A View from the Bridge Week two

Assistant director's journal: A View from the Bridge Week two

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Assistant director Nathan Markiewicz shares his insight into week two of rehearsals for A View from the Bridge.  

Missed week one? Catch up with the start of the rehearsal process 

The furniture arrived early this morning.  Some of it will be the furniture in the show, and some of it is just for rehearsal.  After a few minutes of moving things around slightly, a nudge here and there, shuffling the order of chairs, everything was placed just so.  After last week, the characters are coming into focus, but there will still be some time before everything is memorised, and so we set about the week’s work: methodically working through the play chronologically, scene by scene and moment by moment.


Voice coach Yvonne Morely had been in yesterday, and was having individual sessions with the actors.  She is back for more today, and already I can hear that the cast’s accent work has been taken up a level.  I am not from New York, but I did grow up on the east coast, and my ear is finely tuned the occasional small words that could betray a speaker’s native accent.  After today, these are now all but gone.  There is something else that has been captured too, something more than just the technical pronunciation of words, something even more than the familiar New York cadence and rhythm that is starting to really flow.  It’s hard to explain, but in a way, through their voices, I am beginning to get a real sense of who these characters were, and what their difficult lives might have been like. 


People have often asked me what the differences are between an American rehearsal process, and one in the UK.  The honest answer is practically nothing. The only difference worth noting at all is that in the US it’s usually coffee, and sometimes donuts when we take a break, and here in London it’s tea and biscuits, of course.  I have found that when true artists and professionals put their heads together to make a piece of work, it’s the same no matter where you are. Between cups of tea, we continued to make progress working through the play.


One of the jobs of an assistant director is to be available anytime to run lines with anyone who needs to.  I have often heard people ask actors how they memorise lines.  Of course everyone has a different process, but there is really no substitute for repetition: speaking them over and over.  As week two is coming to a close, it’s crunch time for getting off-book, and everyone is really quite close.  Actors often assume that I am bored when running lines with them, but it couldn't be further from the truth, it really is one of my favourite duties.  I got a chance to sit down and run through scenes with almost everybody, it’s a great way to get to know everyone, and how often do you get to read out the lines for every character in A View from the Bridge?


We were right on schedule to have worked through the entire play this week, which means today we are visiting some of the most emotionally charged and climactic scenes in the play.  All of the actors brought their A-game today.  We started the day with Beatrice and Eddie in Act Two, what Stephen called, “the primal scene of modern drama: a man and a woman at a kitchen table.”  Indeed it was clear now, after we had spent a week roughly sketching out the shape of each scene that what had been created was a family, the Carbones.  Like so many families, like my own, the kitchen table had become the nucleus of family life.  Here they ate together, prayed together, welcomed guests, played games, argued, grew up, and grew old. It felt a bit like looking through a telescope into their lives, this must be the view from the bridge. 

A View from the Bridge opened at Theatre Royal, Nottingham, where it ran from 4 to 7 March 2015. It then toured to Cheltenham, Darlington, Wolverhampton, Bradford, Coventry and Edinburgh, where it concluded on 2 May.