We’re currently in rehearsals for Orlando
, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we’ve been working with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Virginia Woolf’s epic novel to the stage and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. For more details about Orlando
, click here
Monday 28th November (Morning Session)
So the last week of Orlando is here! It’s hard to believe that five weeks ago we were all nervously walking into the rehearsal room for the first time. To say that the time has flown is an understatement, but the whole experience has been so amazing and I feel so lucky to have been part of such an amazing cast.
This morning was spent going thorough the list we had put together on Friday of any problems or questions that had come up during our week in the space, both logistical and any personal issues we wanted to address. These mainly revolved around the movement of the crates – who puts which one where, and whether there was enough room to move around them in costume etc. By going through the list and solving all these problems it meant that everyone was 100% confident in what was happening at every moment. I personally found this extremely helpful but also very reassuring that I did actually know all the timings and box movements. With the pressure of this evening’s first tech session looming over us I did not want to make any mistakes that might slow down proceedings. After spending a good couple of hours this morning going through the list, it was a confident and excited cast that left the rehearsal room ready to face the rest of the week.
I am beyond excited to show an audience what all our hard work over the last five weeks has been for, and to show off the rest of my cast mates who really have put their all into creating a piece of theatre that we are so proud of. I will be eternally grateful to Little Earthquake for all the laughter, fun and (in my case) tears the process has brought. As excited as I am to share what we’ve been working on, I am certainly going to be a soppy mess on the last night!
Monday 28th November (Technical Rehearsal Session 1)
Satya Baskaran Iyer
This is it! Today we’re officially in production week!
The week continued with the first of two technical rehearsal sessions, which are notorious for being long and meticulous. Nevertheless, they must be done in order to ensure that all the technical elements of our show are spot on. The evening began with introductions going around the cast, crew and first year students (who were observing), each saying our name and our role in the show. This was followed by the cast going back into the dressing rooms to prepare for the beginning of the tech session. Since we were going to be focusing on the first half of the show today, I spent the session watching from the audience. It was mesmerising to watch the final pieces of the show come together using the lighting and sound effects – it made all the hard work we had done so far become a whole lot more worthwhile!
We almost got to the interval during this tech session which bodes very well for the second session tomorrow! I cannot wait for everyone to see the culmination of the blood (yes, blood), sweat and tears everyone has put into this production – your enthusiasm will make it all the better!
Monday 28th November (Technical Rehearsal Session 2)
These past few weeks have gone by so quickly! It’s unbelievable to think that we’re finally here, on stage, doing our technical rehearsal. But no time to think about that! Time to concentrate…
Technical rehearsals are funny things… It was one of the hardest rehearsals we had to do! Focus was requisite. We had to be on point at all times, ready and waiting to do exactly what was required of us by the stage management, technical and design teams. However, the four hours rushed by! Saying I am proud of the cast and crew for everything they have put into this production would be an understatement. What a beautiful, intelligent and hilarious production it is.
Wednesday 30th November (Dress Rehearsal)
After so many weeks of everyone’s hard work, we finally got to see how it paid off in our one and only dress rehearsal. It seemed to whizz by after the stop and start of the technical runs, which I think took everyone a little by surprise.
As ever, pace and bold offers were at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It is these things on which the show either flies or sinks, and the dress run has been the best opportunity so far to practice being snappy with our cues and experimental with our offers. However, as this was our first time going through the whole play with full lighting, sound, costume changes, etc., I think we were all a little more reserved than normal whilst acquainting ourselves with the spectacle of the whole thing.
This being said, it was such great fun and was amazing to see how beautifully the set is transported from location to location through the lighting and sound (and the acting, of course, but we already know plenty about that). Now that we’ve practiced with all the different bits and bobs, I (and hopefully the other cast members!) am chomping at the bit to do it all over again with all the pace in the world and the boldest offers I can muster.
In all, the dress has just made me even more excited to get cracking on the real thing. It was such a joy to see it all come together like this and know that everyone on every team is working just as hard as each other to make a fabulous show. The final component to add is an audience, and I can’t wait to show them what we’ve all managed to achieve!
Thursday 1st December 2016 (Notes Session)
After last night’s dress rehearsal I felt a buzz, for me it was the best performance we’d done so far and I felt the rest of the cast agreed with me. We entered our notes session feeling rather optimistic. We were glad to hear that Gareth and Phil were very happy with our performance and admitted that if this had been opening night, they would have been more than satisfied. Gareth had some notes for us to help us perfect certain areas. It was really useful to look at details after performing it all the way through, it helped us to reign in on parts which needed more focus. He gave us overall feedback on the two things he believes integral to a performance, “Pace” (how quickly and efficiently we pick up cues) and “Offers” (our intentions and how we feed off each other). He said he was really impressed with the offers we were making but pace could still be improved. We agreed with his statements and are determined to really raise the standard even further for our opening night!
The last part of the session was reserved for going over a few scenes we felt needed a little more work. A couple of details were adjusted and we left the session feeling excited and enthusiastic for our opening night.
Thursday 1st December 2016 (Rehearsal Session)
Shristy Das Roy
It is opening day and there was a palpable sense of anticipation around the building! We had a notes session earlier in the day to go over the notes Gareth had from the dress rehearsal. Gareth’s main concerns overall, were the pace of the piece and the boldness of offers we made to one another during the dress and the volume of the actors at certain points of show. One thing I noticed during the dress rehearsal was that I had gone back to auto-pilot mode, forgetting a lot of what we had explored in rehearsals about playing off each other’s offers and responding in the moment. Lydia and I had to go over our ice-skating bit again because we looked miserable doing it last night. It’s really hard to enjoy the skating because I find myself constantly thinking about the next move but today’s session helped because we simplified the “infinity turn” section, which makes the sequence a lot simpler now!
I am so thankful to each and every single person working on this production for their relentless support and encouragement throughout the process. I’ve had the time of my life working with the best people and I can’t wait for all you lovely folks to see it!
Friday 2nd December 2016 (First Night Feedback Session)
On our opening night we were absolutely blessed with a large, warm and welcoming audience. The nerves and adrenaline of the first show were sensational, and the next day we had an hour to discuss audience feedback and a couple of notes on the performance. This was such a lovely time to go round and talk about what individual audience members got from the show, which was so positive to hear. One audience member describing the play as “like a film” was very uplifting, really demonstrating that the pace was there, and that the stage could be transformed so rapidly from place to place.
The real task to take away from the first performance is remembering to keep the energy of the first night, and to build on that and maintain it for the rest of the run. The audience for the Friday, the matinee and the final night ALL deserve the energy and fun and wonder of the first night. We have every intention of delivering this and more.
Saturday 3rd December 2016 (Matinee Performance)
After the highs of the first couple of performances we knew that the Saturday Matinee would be a tough show with probably our smallest audience of all four shows. We all knew it would be a challenge and in the foyer before the performance we all said we need to up the energy and keep the storytelling new and exciting. But above all we knew that this audience deserved 110% from us just as any other audience would. We did everything we could to make it happen and open the show with pace and bold offers and from the audience responce and how much they laughed and interacted with us, we think we did it. We concluded from this performance that no matter if you have a sell out or 5 people you have to give them a great performance and rise to the challenge in which ever way you can. It was such a joy and so rewarding to see people come to the show and enjoy it as much as they did. After every show we were on top of the world, and just so immensely proud of what we had done and the team behind it all. So after this afternoon’s performance it was on to the the final performance of Orlando… safe to say we never wanted it to end.
Saturday 3rd December 2016 (Final Performance)
‘It is time to make an end.’
Last night marked the final show of Orlando. The atmosphere was electric and the show itself last night ran smoothly. The audience was with us every step of the way.
Last night also marked the end of our five-week process together as Little Earthquake, cast and crew. This process has been longer for the production teams working out wonderful ways to stage this wild show, and even longer for Gareth and Phil who saw Sarah Ruhl’s version of Orlando in Sydney last year and thought it would go down a treat at UOB. How right they were!
‘How do you eat an elephant?’ Among the wealth of lessons I have learnt over the last five weeks, this question has chimed with me most – not just as a way of approaching a challenging production like Orlando, but as a perspective I can carry with me every day.
What a process, what a show and what great people to spend it with. Thank you to everyone who brought it to such vibrant life.
This isn’t a Sasha/Orlando goodbye, but an Orlando/Marmaduke see you soon.
‘That was it. The end.’
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