Inside Regeneration Rehearsals: Week Two

Inside Regeneration Rehearsals: Week Two

Friday, 8 August 2014

It's week two for Neale Birch's Regeneration rehearsal blog! Take a look at what the cast have been up...

It's action time!

Simon is an action man! This week in rehearsals saw the beginning of our detailed work on the play, Regeneration, scene by scene and the actors are being encouraged by Simon to 'action' their thoughts.

This is a process by which actors find a transitive verb to describe what they are hoping to do to the character/s to whom they are talking. This focuses the actors' minds on their characters' objectives. Actioning the text is such a valuable process and gives great clarity and specificity to the choices the actors are making on each and every thought that they speak.

Working with their scene partners means that there is also a synchronicity to their work and a shared language with the director. As the scene is put on its feet and the blocking begins, Simon encourages the actors to be bold in playing their choices, and the results are already looking good.

We mustn't forget how expressive our backs can be. An early scene involves four characters facing upstage for much of the action. Simon explored various ways of presenting the scene, continuing the detailed analysis of the text and it is fascinating to see how much storytelling can be achieved through physical expression.

Get moving!

Struan Leslie, our movement director, also joined us again for a 'marching' workshop. This was far from square-bashing, but a further development of the movement language work begun last week. He also worked with Simon and the actors on a scene that required extra physicality. Some of the characters in the play suffer terrible mental illness and there are various manifestations of their particular conditions. The company, with Struan and Simon, have to find an effective means of communicating this while limiting the demandson each individual actor, who has to repeat their performances for 13 weeks.









Sister Roger's Biog

It is always interesting to play characters from history, if only for the amount of background information that can be researched. With Regeneration, there are a number of 'real life' characters (Sassoon, Owen, Graves, Rivers), but there are also fictional characters. One such character is Sister Rogers, played in our production by Lindy Whiteford. Creating a background for fictional characters still involves a good deal of historical research plus a degree of imagination, which is always inspired by an examination of the text. The process involves discovering what kind of person might end up being a nursing sister at Craiglockhart. Using one's imagination to understand where a character comes from historically and physically can help an actor make a character alive.


Nightingale Nurses

It is likely that little of this background will be apparent to the audience, but actors trust that such an exercise will give their playing a weight and a richness that couldn't otherwise be found. Here Lindy has allowed us a peek at her character's biography.


(Nee Eleanor Petrie)

1865                Born Elgin, Morayshire

 only child of James and Elizabeth, Purveyors of Teas, Fine Wines and Cheeses.

1870                Sent to newly opened Craigellachie Primary School.

                        Exclusive. 13 miles away - carriage each way.

1876                Sent as boarder to 'Edinburgh Educational Institution For Ladies' founded by business woman Mary Erskine for daughters of burgesses and merchants.

                        Excels at Mathematics and Art.

1878                Mother - Elizabeth Petrie - dies.

1878-81           Father drinks business away.

1881                Eleanor returns to assist in shop.

                        Debts mount up. Alcoholism and social embarrassment fill each day.

1884                Meets 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Rogers (Seaforth Highlanders) at church.

1885                Father - James Petrie - dies.

                        Shop is sold to pay off debts.

1886                Eleanor marries Kenneth.

                        The couple move to Edinburgh, buy a small villa in Inverleith.

                        Try to start a family. Does charitable work.   

1900                26th February. Widowed.

                        Kenneth killed at Perderberg, 2nd Boer War.

1902                Started nurse training at Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh (Nightingale Nurses)

                        Professional career for 'educated' women. Higher wage for a 'better class of

                        women'. Formalising procedure and creating high standards.

                        Worked with Dr Philips specialising in the treatment and rehabilitation of TB patients

                        at Craigleith and The Royal Victoria Hospital.

1916                Highly respected, is invited to be part of new Craiglockhart Hospital.

Regeneration opens at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it runs from 29 August to 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.


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.