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.

QUARTET’s name gives away the dominant structure of the play and, although there are ‘duet’and ‘trio’ scenes within each act, the quartets dominate. The nature of the play really requires the four actors for the 8 hours we work together each day. In any case, this is the sort of script that reveals gems about your own character as you watch others inventing and working together and growing confident. Relationships are enriched in observation, and new avenues for exploration open up. We’re getting to know the play deeply, as well as one another personally and professionally – all part of the developing bond that grows out of security and trust in one another and the work itself – vital to the success of any ensemble.

Before you run, it’s good to stumble or ‘stagger’; ‘hurry slowly’ is good advice. We had out first stagger-through on Friday, piecing together the scenes into acts and the acts into the whole. The play in action had its first outing in the room. It felt quite an achievement and is always the first milestone on the production journey.

And from now on, with the last week in the rehearsal room before getting into the theatre for the tech work, it’s about running the acts to gain more familiarity with the text and the stage business which has developed, enrich character, deepen relationships, and to refine and polish each scene’s tempo and rhythm, our clarity of intention … all the good stuff.

I’ll be back … at the end of the week. Next week’s schedule promises to be as varied, packed, and as much fun, as ever!