Rehearsal Diary: Of Mice and Men Week 3

Rehearsal Diary: Of Mice and Men Week 3

1 February 2016

by Samantha Hopkins

Assistant Stage Manager and understudy Samantha Hopkins writes on Of Mice and Men rehearsals week three.

This week, our company was completed as we welcomed the three other understudies onto the ranch. The understudies will also be taking on ensemble roles in the show so there has been a lot for them to learn straight away.

The whole company had a voice workshop on the main stage at Birmingham Rep with Barbara Houseman. This was a great opportunity for all of us to work together and get used to the size of the space. Barbara was absolutely brilliant and taught us a vocal warm up routine that we can use each day. She demonstrated how to do each exercise and then went on to explain why the exercise worked and how it would help us vocally. We then listened to each other speaking sections from the play and gave feedback about how clearly the words could be heard around the auditorium. We will need to do this in each new space we go to when we are touring as they will all be different acoustically and we will need to make appropriate vocal adjustments.

We worked with the sound designer, Nick Powell to create live sound effects that will be used during the show to enhance the atmosphere. This foley work included vocal sound effects as well as using items such as chains and coconuts to create the sounds of the horses in the barn. The foley is all quite subtle and very effective… it’s also fun to perform.

Lucy Cullingford returned this week to work through the scene changes and other movement sections. These have been altered slightly to incorporate the understudies as part of the ensemble. The understudies also had the opportunity to learn the fight sequences from the fight director, Terry King. This was really valuable as stage combat needs to be tightly choreographed and we can be sure that we have learnt the sequences accurately.

The final member of the cast to join us this week was Arthur the dog. The character of Candy, played by Dudley Sutton has an old dog and there was some debate about whether this should be a real dog or a puppet. The production team have decided on a real dog and the one we will be using at Birmingham Rep is Arthur, who is owned by Trina Jones, the general manager of the theatre. Dudley has been doing quite a bit of work with Arthur this week and their relationship is developing beautifully. We will be using a different dog at each venue so look out for the doggy audition notices!

We have now reached the end of our time in the rehearsal room and next week we will be moving into the theatre for technical rehearsals ready for our first preview on Thursday.


Dudley Sutton in rehearsals with Arthur the DogDudley Sutton in rehearsals with Arthur the Dog

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.