The rehearsals kicked off with a read-through, with the 3-strong cast, in the curtained cuboid that is the UEA rehearsal room. Alex Helm, who reprises his role as Reverend Eland, was immediately off-text (though he kindly glanced at the script every now and then so James Callas Ball and I, the newbies to the play and company, didn’t feel too under-prepared). His elegant, honeyed, delivery filled the rehearsal room with the confidence of a fully-formed performance.
The liveliness of Ant Cule, the director and co-writer of the play (alongside Emma MacLusky) kept the pace of all following rehearsals spinning along. We tried various approaches to the non-liner narrative; marked the differences between the passages which take place in a sort of limbo state and those set within the sphere of memory; discussed themes, characterisation and the imagery within the text (with the aid of Ant’s scrapbook of visual references). This all proved useful during in the rehearsal process as it created a common ground from which we could build upon our ideas: Reverend Eland, the caged tiger; Tom and Annie, a dancing couple who remain connected with one another even when appearing, at first glance, to be separated.
We have now reached an exciting stage in rehearsals: as the weight of the script is lifted from our hands (having nestled the lines safely in our brains) there is the freedom to make new discoveries, and an increased immediacy, with each run-through of the play. “Never crush an instinct” reminds Ant with a grin (context is all with statements such as that!). Our first show is on Friday in Norwich, and a little regional tour follows; can’t wait for Bricks of Burston #2 to commence!