Getting back on the hor.. donkey


It’s a funny thing that despite many years spent in the world of am dram I have only very rarely been involved with the same play on more than one occasion; in fact looking back I could only find six examples. And in just four instances have I returned to the same role. So it is with no particular form in the field that after a two month lay off I find myself returning to dust off my Bottom (hooray, finally a new angle on an old favourite) and revive our work for the good people and tourists of Stratford-upon-Avon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play For The Nation.

Checking the words? Photo by Topher McGrillis RSC

Of course, Bottom’s never really taken a back seat (hmm, doesn’t quite work that one) as the production has formed a constant underscoring to the rest of daily life as it made its way to Cardiff, Belfast and then back to Warwickshire. At this point each of the 14 teams around the country went to Stratford to play there for two days. It has been quite exciting to follow the progress of my colleagues in their teams as one by one they pick up the baton in this theatrical relay race and get to perform on the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

A couple of weeks ago we in the Tower team met up for our first rehearsal for some time but, it has to be said, this was more an excuse for a meal (Greek, naturally) than an attempt to get down to serious business. Our Maria was unfortunately poorly but nothing daunted we used what we had learned from the RSC and employed video technology (i.e. Skype) to hook up with her and have a line run. Then during the last

Tom’s props go back to basics!

week the Tower Team reconvened properly to reacquaint ourselves with characters we are playing and get to grips with their dialogue. The main concern was that, in the interim, the words might have disappeared into the ether but I’m happy to report that our muscle memories do not seem to have become flabby just yet – certainly, after all the earlier work and training that went in, that’s a massive relief. Words, intonations, actions, reactions and interactions seemed to flow with relative ease. It’s all a bit like riding a horse donkey – once done it’s not easily forgotten.

David puts us through our paces

What will be principally different is the staging. As noted in a recent post the RST has a thrust stage and it’s difficult to recreate this in the small rehearsal space at our disposal – no longer do we have the luxury of being spoiled by the vast expanses available at the RSC rehearsal rooms in Clapham or at the Barbican. However, it’s home and with a bit of imagination we were able to manage. It was strange, now, working without costume and props (or indeed the other actors) but it all seemed to fall back into place reasonably easily. Our understanding is that we will be exploring the stage space throughout most of our Monday rehearsal time in Stratford ahead of our first performance in the evening so we will need to be on the ball in order to get it right just a few hours later.

So now our (second) big moment is nearly upon us as we begin the final section of our awfully big adventure. Time to pack a bag and head off to Stratford trying to fit in and around the finals at Wimbledon and Saint Denis (you’d have thought they would have had more consideration really!) We’ve got our own final to concentrate on; I think it’s going to be somewhat emotional.

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The Tower Theatre performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon

Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th July at 7.15

Getting back on the hor.. donkey

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