Inside Regeneration Rehearsals

Inside Regeneration Rehearsals

Friday, 1 August 2014

Staff Director and Associate Producer of the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, Neale Birch, gives us look into the first week of Regeneration rehearsals...



Simon Godwin and Alex Eales present the Regeneration model box

It's always exciting to meet a new cast and company on Touring Consortium productions. I've worked for the company for over 17 years and every cast is completely different! After a nice mingle with everyone in the lovely rehearsal room at the Northampton Royal and Derngate, the Regeneration company along with staff from both the R&D and Touring Consortium were treated to a great model box presentation by set designer Alex Eales.

This was promptly followed by a read-through with a twist, a la Simon Godwin! Everyone in the room was invited to join in the reading of the script; we changed speaker almost line by line, which not only gave the actors a break from worrying about their parts, but gave technicians, admin and producing staff a chance to have a go.

Now for some lunch...


Today we had a visit from Stuart Lee from Oxford University. He is an expert on First World War poets and gave us quite a bit of information on the background and characters and elements of the play that we felt we needed elucidating. Stuart has created the website The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, where you can find all sorts of useful resources on the poetry of the First World War. It really is an amazing site so do take a look.

I particularly like the audio recording from World War One veterans. Here is one below:



Ian Monk demonstrating order of rank in the British Army with Regeneration cast

Today the company received a visit from Adjutant Ian Monk from The Royal Yeomanry regiment. Following two tours to Afghanistan, Ian was able to describe the pressures that the troops are under when in a combat zone. He spoke candidly about commanding troops under fire and the impact of losing men from his own platoon when out on patrol. Ian was also able to give a detailed explanation of the command structure of the British Army, and demonstrated with the actors the order of hierarchy.

Ian's visit was appreciated by the actors, who gained a valuable insight into the stress that their characters might have experienced.


It was a group trip to the Imperial War Museum today with a chance for the cast to visit the stunning World War One exhibition.

We were then joined by Helen Cadbury, who is updating our teachers' resource pack, who enjoyed interviewing actor Simon Coates (playing Yealland and Anderson) plus getting the thoughts from the cast on their earlier trip to the Imperial War Museum.

Struan Leslie (movement director) began his work with the company this afternoon on exploring the physical expression of the characters and establishing a language of movement for this production.



As you can see from the photo, this week has been all about sitting round the table analysing the text. Simon asked the actors to analyse the text in various ways to help them understand both their characters and the life of the play. It has been such a luxury to have adaptor, Nicholas Wright, in rehearsals this week. His comments and feedback have been invaluable.

It became very clear to me just how much background reading the actors had done in preparation for their roles. There is an abundance of literature out there on the First World War and on the war poets. The question now is how to integrate that factual knowledge gleaned from research into a fictitional play?

Watch this space...

Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.