The first two weeks of the rehearsal period for The Bricks of Burston tour flew by and there we all were at the start of week 3 feeling slightly knocked off our perches.
Monday: This week began at about six in the morning as I scrambled my belongings together in London ready for another week of rehearsals and life in Pulham Market. I was met at Liverpool Street Station station by a rather bleary eyed Tom Grace (who is playing Tom Higdon). We powered straight on with a line run on the train and some prep for our up coming interviews for The Stuff of Dreams YouTube channel. This exhausted the already sluggish Tom who opted to nap the rest of the way. Fine by me. I’ll just take a photo of you and upload it to every social media site I am a member of (all of them). I reckon it’s how the Higdon’s would have rolled.
Monday’s rehearsal was really productive as we worked through a big chunk of Act 1. Annie Higdon, my character, started to feel very tangible and we finished the day feeling very secure in what we had achieved. Bring on the tour! (Steady on).
Tuesday: 9am. Keen to make the most of my downtime from rehearsals, and surrounded by the beautiful Norfolk countryside, I decided to set off for a run around the lanes. Clearing my head (and lungs!) it was an opportunity to ponder Annie and some of the trickier moments we had come across in rehearsals. There’s nothing like a sunrise and a long, winding road to inspire you.
Back in director Cordelia’s cottage (which is just down the road from our rehearsal space), Tom and I spent the day line running and sequencing some of the memories in the play. The narrative doesn’t follow a linear path so it was a useful exercise for us, discovering what spurred each of the characters on to their next encounter.
Wednesday: (18.00 – 22.00) Always a tough rehearsal slot, but we managed to explore the court scene that takes placein Act 2. It is a long and quite complex scene that involves moving between the purgatorial state the characters inhabit and the memory of the court proceedings. This scene is a challenge for me as I have to connect with Tom Higdon outside of my memory; with the Reverend within the memory; and also voice the characters of the Banardo’s children who testify against my character in the scene. Great work for a Tuesday evening when we were all feeling a bit ‘middle-of-the-week-ish’. The pack of biscuits probably helped.
Life on the rural touring circuit isn’t all tea and biscuits though. Having been provided with glorious costumes there was some fine-tuning to be done – buttons to sew and seams to alter. So I spent the next morning on this. Eventually the team was reunited for Wednesday’s rehearsal. Or so I thought. Alex (the Rev) was actually stuck on a train in Norwich unable to make it to Diss for the rehearsals. Cordelia worked with Tom and me on Act 2, playing the part of the Reverend marvellously. We finished early and retired to the cottage for a night of Mexican food, ice cream and Argo. Congratulations Ben Affleck. Your beard was a real achievement.
Thursday: We were whisked off in costume for our second photo shoot (What’s that? We’re being featured in another Newspaper article? Oh stop it, I can’t bear it!). Finishing the day with some filming for the YouTube channel. We were interviewed by Stuff of Dreams veteran, Tom Moran, who probed and quizzed and tickled for answers to all sorts of questions. From the rehearsal process to the themes of the play to the relevance of the story for today’s audiences he left no stone unturned. It gave me the opportunity to think a bit more about the world of the play, which is always worthwhile, especially if you’re handling a story steeped in historical fact.
Friday: DAY OFF! Recuperation back in the Big Smoke. A day away from the rehearsal room allows for all sorts of things to settle; chatting to friends about the story makes me see things differently and returning fresh on Saturday morning I feel even more connected to Annie.
Saturday: The rehearsal was productive and exciting. We managed to block the rest of act 2, which now means we have the bare bones of the entire play with a week to go. One disappointing part of the day however was missing the local spring fare in the village hall. We thought we would add a bit of glamour to the place only to find that we had completely missed it. Just as well Annie Higdon isn’t too shabby a baker and had provided cupcakes for the day, eh! We were also treated to yet ANOTHER photo shoot. This time, stills of the rehearsal room by Alex’s friend Alex. She had the biggest camera I had ever seen. I’m pretty sure the old saying goes ‘the bigger the camera, the better the photo’ so I can’t wait to see the results.
And that, my friends, was that. Week 3 done and dusted. The Higdons made the long journey back to London by horse and carriage while Eland rode his dark stallion t’other way to Norwich*. Bring on Week 4!
*This is not strictly true.