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.

Week 3: the play’s the thing!

Rehearsal room at QTC, BrisbaneThis post is a reflection on my own sense of the ‘job’ as actor this week. The clarity of purpose behind our weekly and daily schedules keeps us all focussed and humming forward together – kudos to our director Andrea Moor and Stage Manager Peter Sutherland.

For those of us inside Rehearsal Room One, the days seem fuelled by performance adrenaline; it’s probably why I’m so tired by 6pm and the close of play. We work from 10 most mornings, although costume fittings or publicity calls (both of which I’ve had this week) can occupy the 9am slot. We’re working quickly and are, as far as text is concerned, off book but still taking prompts, pruning out line substitutions, and fixing drops. We continue refining action too: timing the handling of props; entrances and exits, the scene and costume changes. The little things really do matter. As we do, there’s a growing sense of the ‘arc’ of the play, and of the rhythm of scenes as they flow in and out of one another. Out front Andrea’s focus is total; she provokes, questions, and continues to interrogate the work with us. Assistant Director Catarina Hebbard keeps us honest with text and on track with blocking. Continue reading “Week 3: the play’s the thing!”