Rehearsal journal: A View from the Bridge week 1

Rehearsal journal: A View from the Bridge week 1

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Assistant director Nathan Markiewicz rounds up the first week of rehearsals for A View from the Bridge

The first day of rehearsal is always a treat.  Everyone arrives one by one, some with coffee in hand, others with backpacks, briefcases, and bottles of water.  Handshakes all around and plenty of hugs too.  Some of us are meeting for the first time of course, while some have worked together on many productions.  When a group of people embark on an exciting creative endeavour, the electricity is palpable. 

Soon enough, director Stephen Unwin got things rolling with the first read through of the script. After having read the play to myself so many times, it took on a new shape to hear it spoken by the cast.  Suddenly, the story came alive, and each character became a distinct, living voice in the room. 

In the afternoon, designer Liz Ascroft unveiled her detailed model, so precise that it was easy to imagine yourself standing on the real thing.

The View from the Bridge model box

It is a unique experience to be an American in rehearsals with British actors working on an American play—say that ten times fast!  As the cast continued reading the script to each other around a large table, now taking the time to explore the text in greater detail, I almost forgot I was in London. Of course I am not the only American in the room: Michael Brandon was born in Brooklyn.  It’s only the second day of rehearsal, and already I feel like I am in Red Hook.

There was plenty more work to do with the text today, but in the morning I got the chance to share some information I had compiled about the history of immigration in the US.  In the early part of the twentieth century approximately nine million Italians immigrated to the US, but during the time A View from the Bridge takes place, a “quota” system was in place, severely limiting the number of visas granted, and subsequently causing a rise in “illegal immigration.”  It was also an honour to share a bit of my own family history, after all I am only three generations away from 

Polish and Italian immigrants who, like so many, took a ship across the Atlantic to New York, and were processed through Ellis Island. Terri Paddock, of TheatreCloud, visited rehearsal today, and got us all following each other on Twitter, and since then our phones have been pinging away—join us on the Twittersphere if you want the real inside scoop!


The table disappeared today, and sitting in a circle the actors began to lean forward in their seats and really speak the words to each other.  It is becoming clear that the genius of Arthur Miller’s writing is undeniable. The craftsmanship of the dialogue and revealing poetic quality of the stage directions continue to provide discoveries.  

Although rehearsal started off this morning in much the same way it did yesterday, by the afternoon the cast had quite naturally found their way out of their seats, and now were moving around the room as they played their parts.  Stephen continued to mine the social relationships of the characters as they developed between the actors.  The subtle nuances of the play continue to reveal themselves, and the rhythm of the piece is really starting to flow. At the end of the day, I marvelled at how much had been accomplished in a single week.

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.