Rehearsals – a phenomenology note!

On Thursday and Friday we had rehearsals at the Uni.  On Thursday, we had Jaffa (Narcissus), Hannah (Echo) and Ryan (Amenius) and on Friday, everyone, except Ryan who had to work and Lynne (Hera), who is caught up in bad weather on Caldy Island.

 Thursday’s rehearsals started with lots of coffee and hanging around, and a bit of going through the blocking for Hannah when she interacts with the Gods.  Then when Jaffa arrived, we started properly.  Getting to know each other, the normal process of introducing ourselves and saying something about ourselves.  I moved this into talking about “our first kiss”, which I’d read only this week in the Guardian as a process that a director had used when dealing with intimacy in a script.  We then went through all the scenes with the  various young lovers.  This process really did work – it broke the ice, and enabled the actors and myself to know a bit about each other and see each others vulnerabilities and strengths.  It also made the snogging easier! We rehearsed the scenes, which are mostly fairly straightforward drama scenes, and I asked for various different readings and motivations, which everyone did extremely willingly and well.  I was so happy at the end of the day, because we had performances which are already convincing, we were getting more detailed, and I could also see how the shots would fit in with this.  Being in the performance studio did not get in the way of imagining the scenes and starting to make them real, and I felt the process of directing becoming much more artistic and responsive.  My instinct kicked in and I was able to react on the spot to what actors were doing, and, almost like sculpting or drawing (or playing the piano), use what was happening in order to find out what I wanted and get it.

Friday was slightly more technical because the whole cast wasn’t there. Jaffa and Bethan (female Tiresias) heroically stood in for Hera, and I stood in for Amenius and a nymph (you see, type casting, I’m so nymph like and light on my feet – not!).  As you’ll see from Coral W’s pictures we had Brendan up a ladder playing Zeus, and all the screens represented by chairs at right angles around the space.   This rather produced the effect of “Echo and Narcissus as pantomime”, which wasn’t in itself bad, but means that when we’re on location, our job will also be to some extent to re-imagine and forget some aspects of the rehearsal as well as remember them.

The advantages of the rehearsal and run through as it stands are the following:

  • We had time to complete the whole script and had a sense of beginning, middle and end.
  • We could show this to the whole crew (actually not all the crew as they weren’t available, but at least some), who would have then the imaginary object made real to some extent.
  • We now have a timing of 28 minutes.
  • We have some idea of eyelines.  If characters are looking across screens, their eyeline will be to the screen and not to the other characters.  However, knowing that they are looking approximately at 2/3rd up the screen, where the golden section is (where people’s eyes are generally filmed) meant this was extremely helpful
  • Very helpful suggestions from cast and crew.  Ideas about, a) the installation, having water, smellaround and a pre-lighting state to make the space of the installation moody and set the one, b) lots of good script suggestions and solving of problems, c) the realisation that the ending where Echo breaks the spell herself has to be really clear, as it was identified as a problem at the run through, and we do probably need to show Narcissus reflected in Echo’s tears.
  • A slightly more concrete sense of shots and screens, and the motivations for moving from one to the other (particularly in the chase scene).
  • It was great to build up a sense of community and knowledge amongst crew and cast.  Costume and make-up came along half way through, and although I rushed them through their process, it was good to have them there.
  • It was lovely hearing Hannah sing the songs to playback, she’s got a lovely voice.  

Possible drawbacks

  • The panto like nature of the run, with an inevitable lack of sensitivity to the camera, might give a false tone, or sense of security.
  • Have I staged it too much “in reality” and not enough for the camera.  This is, after all, some kind of film really, and I wonder if by trying to set up the reality, the “pro-filmic event” too holistically, that this somehow might get in the way of the storyboarded shot list.  I did find myself completely forgetting the shot list quite frequently during the day.

Anyway, tomorrow we start.  How exciting!  At the moment it’s sunny, so let’s hope.

Yesterday I did some production running for Ed, getting lots of shopping, and this was quite relaxing because it took my mind off things.  Ed is being heroic working through the weekend on schedules and stuff.  We’re going to have to face the trauma of the weather and the short shooting time performatively.   We definitely don’t have enough money or time, but this is super low budget filmmaking.  Perhaps our problems don’t happen in the “professional” film world, but they must have other difficulties. We’ll just have to surmount the hurdles.

Signing off

Coral

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