Rehearsal Diary: Of Mice and Men Week 2

Rehearsal Diary: Of Mice and Men Week 2

25 January 2016

by Samantha Hopkins

Assistant Stage Manager and understudy Samantha Hopkins writes on the process for Of Mice and Men rehearsals week two.

This week has been much more practical in terms of establishing exactly how everything will work in performance. The actors have had costume fittings and a few of them have begun to wear their costume shoes and hats in the rehearsal room so that they can start to get used to how the costumes will affect their movement. Saoirse-Monica Jackson, who plays Curly’s wife has been wearing high-heeled shoes in rehearsals, which has really emphasised the femininity of her character compared to all the men, who are in cowboy boots.

The cast work on the movement of the play

Kristian Phillips and Saoirse-Monica Jackson, who play Lennie and Curley's Wife, working with Terry King on the Thresher Platform.

The company have had group movement workshops with Lucy Cullingham, who has helped us to devise and choreograph the scene changes. It has been great for the actors and the stage management team to work together to develop tightly choreographed movement sequences, which transform the stage from scene to scene. These sequences serve a practical purpose but they look so effective and really add to the atmosphere of the play.

The actors have continued to work on their American accents with Charmian Hoare but this week, they have also had voice coaching from Barbara Houseman. They worked in groups and individually so that Barbara could ensure that each actor is using his/her voice in the most safe and effective way. Everyone now seems comfortable performing in the accents and the scenes are really developing as the actors are beginning to rehearse without their scripts in hand.

Mid-week, Terry King came in to choreograph the fight sequences in the play. Most of this work was done in the rehearsal room but one of the fights takes place high up on the platform of a large piece of set, which represents a threshing machine in a barn. This was set up in a workshop so that Terry could work with the actors on top of the thresher platform. It was pretty cold in the workshop so it was a good job they were doing physical work! As with all fight sequences, the primary concern is the safety of the actors but Terry was also great at making sure the fights tell the right story for each moment of the action.

The artistic and practical aspects of the play have all been worked on as individual scenes and sequences so it will be really exciting next week when it all starts to come together. 

Of Mice and Men premieres at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, where it runs from 4 to 13 February 2016. It then tours to Cheltenham, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Darlington, Blackpool, Cambridge, Brighton, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Oxford and Leicester where it concludes on 28 May.