Rehearsal journal: Brave New World Week 2

Rehearsal journal: Brave New World Week 2

19 August 2015

by Neale Birch

'We spent some time this week finding a safe and effective means of expressing a riot' Associate producer and staff director Neale Birch rounds up the second week of rehearsals. 

Missed week one? Read the first entry to the rehearsal journal

There was a good energy in the rehearsal room at the start of week two. The actors were looking forward to beginning the scene work from a more practical and physical perspective following the tremendous brainstorming of last week. 
We are pleased to have Ruth Cooper-Brown and Rachel Cristi Bown-Williams from RC-Annie as our fight directors on this production and they began with a whipping workshop. They brought in their own whips (nothing odd about that - they’re fight directors) and the actors practised the technique that would ensure a good ‘crack’ on every flick. At all times, health and safety is paramount, but from my angle the action was already looking spectacular. They then worked on developing the basic skills with the company and looking at an improvised sequence of interlocking arms, actors working in pairs creating the beginning of a fight, perhaps, and building that into the rest of their bodies. It is great to see the possibilities that come from basic disciplines.
Eddie Kay, our movement director, was back in from Wednesday to pick up the movement work. As well as finding a physical language for characters, there are a number of group scenes that involve extensive movement. We have the challenge of staging an orgy, and also examining the culture of the savage reservation, looking at ritual. We spent some time this week finding a safe and effective means of expressing a riot and we began work on staging the nightclub scene. All very demanding. The company is taking the ensemble nature of the work on really well. They are going to be very busy in performance, and we are all going to need to build up our stamina. Eddie is taking us through warm up exercises to ensure that we are prepared for the physical demands of the piece and this will need to continue throughout the entire run of the production.
Brave New World cast in rehearsals
The rehearsal room is so often a place of intensive exploration and concentration, but there are also lighter moments and a sense of play. In the scene work, so many discoveries are made through the process of ‘actioning the text’. This involves analysing each separate thought expressed by each character and making a choice as to how one character is trying to affect another character. Using transitive verbs, implying a transition from one person to another, the text becomes active and alive. As James works with the actors, our understanding of what is happening in the scenes is greatly enhanced. The scenes become dynamic and the actors are motivated and inspired. While this is intensive work in itself, it encourages play and exploration and allows actors to use their craft to the full.
Another good week, with our work heading in a very positive direction.

Brave New World premieres at Royal and Derngate, Northampton, where it runs from 4 to 26 September 2015. It then tours to Edinburgh, Blackpool, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Bradford where it concludes on 5 December.