Backstage Rhythm

There’s another kind of orchestration happening in the backstage area. It has a rhythm of its own, conducted by the Stage Manager, and one never heard out front.

I sit waiting in the wings during tech rehearsals and listen to the sounds around me – music and sound effects, the gentle rumble of stage machinery, whoosh and click of scrim drops, motion of the actor’s feet, onstage voices, and the cue calls orchestrated by our Stage Manager, Peter Sutherland.

Pete’s resonant voice is calm, focused, and in tune with the show’s momentum. I swear he is timing his standby and go cue calls to the beat of Tony Brumpton‘s (and Giuseppe Verdi‘s) music and the play’s ambient sound effects. It is wonderfully reassuring.

Goodbye rehearsal room … hello theatre

Yesterday we said goodbye to Rehearsal Room 1 at Queensland Theatre Company. It’s been our cosy playroom since just after Christmas when we came together to begin work on QUARTET. It’s into the Playhouse at QPAC tomorrow and the start of tech week.

Image: Stephen Henry Photography via QTC
Image: Stephen Henry Photography via QTC

This means getting used to a new space; those green (Act 1) and yellow (Act 2) tape markups on the floor will become real levels and walls, doors and other objects to accommodate – although we’ve worked with real furniture and stand-in props. We’ll swap rehearsal gear for costumes and makeup and all the other ‘body-masking’ add-ons that assist in transforming actor to character. Continue reading “Goodbye rehearsal room … hello theatre”

Week 4 – the gears are clicking

Waking early today into the light in the sky. It’s high summer and my diurnal rhythms seem to be in sync with the bigger picture. Eyes open, into awareness, and the low-level adrenaline that’s come to be part of my life, kicks into play. I’m grateful for a day off for the light domestic duties, a spot of gardening, and a catch-up with the small screen entertainment. This helps to calm the mind and restore some balance after a week that has been one of the most intense so far in the rehearsal period. Continue reading “Week 4 – the gears are clicking”

And Week 2 is a wrap

Just like that, it was Friday afternoon – Day 10 of calls, and the end of Week 2 of rehearsal. The intensive nature of our work on the floor – blocking, which is all about playing with space, interaction, and finding actions to suit the words and words to suit the actions (thank you, Mr Shakespeare) is occupying our working hours each day.  Continue reading “And Week 2 is a wrap”


Rehearsal days are flying by – we’re nearing the end of Week 2 – and the work on the floor this week, blocking scenes and interrogating action through character, is intense and tiring. This is where the richness of a text becomes apparent, but it takes its toll. The tiredness only becomes apparent at day’s end when, for me at least, it isn’t possible to do much more than eat a light dinner, do a bit of reading – without a pencil in hand – and consider the luxury of an early night. I don’t have access to a television at the moment so this is probably a good thing, else I’d drift off in front of it, I suspect. Continue reading “Routine”

Tosca’s Kiss

Week 2 begins with no calls in the rehearsal room for me today. Work on the role doesn’t stop, of course; there’s homework to do – always homework when becoming absorbed in preparing a performance.

This afternoon I watched an extraordinarily moving documentary on Casa di Riposa – a home in Milan – endowed by the great Italian composer Guiseppe Verdi for old musicians and opera singers. This documentary was the inspiration for Ronald Harwood’s QUARTET.

I was touched to the point of tears.

This is a brief snippet.