Halloween. The Americanisation continues. I arrive late (relationship crisis and the clocks going back) and the group are going through the lines round the table. Alan is back at the hospital - he’s had an MR scan and is waiting to be discharged - which might take some hours. We feel the pinch of time - a little worm of fear (to paraphrase a line in the play); are we on track or have the strange-days of Alan’s hospital stay thrown us a bit? I’m always amazed how fragile theatre rehearsals are. Theatre folk are a superstitious bunch (dancers too?). If you don’t do things a certain way it’ll all go wrong. But what’s the right way?
We go through the script, today concentrating on getting the lines right - and there are a lot of lines to be learned. Andrew nudges and fine-tunes our renderings, giving clarification and frameworks for how the characters can (should) sound. I’m glad for this time. My main character - I am loosely basing her on Nancy Reagan. I watched Ronald Reagan’s funeral on YouTube last night. It took place on the edge of a desert valley in California, in the late afternoon sun. Nancy was devastated. Truly grieving her life partner. It’s always weird when a public figure one has disliked intensely shows themselves to be ... . vulnerable.
Another line in the play: ”Brangelina and peanut butter candy - thank god!”
We discuss whether Brangelina is now a redundant concept because of the split ... should another celebrity couple replace them in the play? Of course not. Although the conversation leads to another A&A exchange:
Andrew: Who’s the pirate-faced one who looks like an old lesbian?
Anton: Johnny Depp?
Andrew: Johnny Depp!
We discuss whether the phrase ‘old lesbian’ is pejorative. I think it is, but it’s also funny, and recognisable. We also discuss freedom of speech and the rights of novelty bakers: should they be taken to court if they refuse to make a cake a) celebrating same sex marriage / b) depicting the prophet Mohamed: discuss.
After lunch we sit in the rehearsal room looking at the L’s. They stand silent and sentinel, perfectly lined up, symmetrical and elegant. We don’t want to stage anything ... perhaps we’re hesitant because Alan’s not here? I know I am. Instead we work on moving them, one at a time, seeing if they can be manipulated by only one person; They are extremely heavy and the point of gravity is tricky. It’s a phenomenal workout. We test out whether there is an ‘off stage’ area, or whether all the stage is live throughout - even the shadows at the side walls of the theatre. It’s always a big choice - to leave or not leave the stage during the play.
Alan comes in the afternoon and we stage the first few scenes. He is leaving for Vienna for a 72 hours, so tomorrow we will run the scenes with the blocking and continue polishing the lines.
Alan sends a tender email to us from the airport:
I love you all very much. Please take care when you rehearse this last day without me that you don't over do it - (in the sense of dry-humping, if you know what I mean). Then better throw yourself into something, or cut the day short so we can all be charged and ready for Wednesday. Committing the lines to mind and heart is of course always the great help.
They say there will be snow in a few days. There’s a melancholy in the air. And I notice we don’t mention Trump at all these days. Strange times.
Quiet and normal rehearsal day. We have some staging, we’re starting to know the lines, so we put the two together. Now it’s just maths and geometry and timing. Does this scene flow into this scene? Does this entrance work both physically but also legitimately - ie, does it make human sense?
There is a scene where I play myself, Suzie plays Melanie (Feldseth) and Yvonne plays Sissel (Aune). It takes place at the Norwegian Arts Council offices. It’s super cheeky and lovely to play, but the opening of the scene feels slightly ‘eggy’ to me (this is a great English-theatre word to describe a stage moment that’s sticky, and doesn’t flow, as if it’s a bit bogged down.) Suzie points out we have a lot of other stuff happening at this point, in terms of a lively music background, so what may feel like a lull simply won’t be when we put all the elements together.
I mention to Dag O that we need to work in the shoes, the shoes we’re going to wear in the show. Nothing worse than rehearsing in good grip trainers then being given a pair of high heeled leather soled character shoes a week before the premiere. Stine (our WG costume designer) would never do that, but I’m having a day where I’m trying to find sticks with which to beat myself. There are many worse things in the world than having the wrong rehearsal shoes.
In the evening Andrew, Anton and I join Mark Wax (lovely dancer at the Opera who was in our Chrismas show Jingle Horse), to see The Virus, Jo Strømgren’s new piece. Premieres are always a strange affair. I really liked the dancing, although as a fan of metal I’m picky when I see it re-imagined on stage: Well that’s not quite what it’s like in a real metal mosh pit!
Even from right at the back of the auditorium you can see the dancers are dripping with sweat. I'm always touched when I'm reminded of how hard theatre people work, how easy they make it look, how often it is dismissed precisely because it looks easy.
It’s a nutty profession. I'm sure Hillary Clinton is suffering from the same problem right now.
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