Hannah blogging for you this week and attempting to put into words a week that has blown my socks off!
We have been looking forward to performing Send More Paper at Edinburgh for some time but this week if finally arrived and my goodness was it worth waiting for.
Silly me thought, ‘You know what, I think I’ll pop up to Edinburgh for a few days and catch a few shows, fit in some rehearsing and do the show, no problem’. Wowzer, Edinburgh threw it all at me, I saw some truly incredible pieces of theatre. I don’t feel that my describing them would ever quite do them justice; my heart was broken, faith in humanity restored, tears shed, jaw dropped and laughter exploded! Some of the shows were; Every Brilliant Thing, Lungs, Bonenkai and Snakes The Musical. Now back in Durham I am exhausted in the best possible way, and I haven’t even told you about our show…
SO… we gave ourselves a couple of hours on Wednesday and Thursday to recap the show, work on our tweaked opening, make sure scene changes were slick and get back into character. We arrived at St Margaret’s House, a recommended rehearsal space, with a selection of props and costumes. Yes, we looked a little odd on the bus, but who doesn’t during the fringe? There was such a buzz being back together and performing. It was also a lovely break from the admin side of things; we don’t claim to be experts but we are certainly honing our skills at funding applications and tour planning.
Rehearsals went well, there was a joy in the room, no matter how long we have been apart we quickly settle back in to working as an ensemble. After some company planking led by Adam we cracked on with a line run and then into tweaks and character work. It was great to welcome Mark Calvert and Meghan Doyle to the room on Thursday, helping to give another perspective on the work. 4pm on Thursday we excitedly packed up, ran through the storms and headed to Kings Hall to begin our technical rehearsal.
Northern Stage technical volunteers Sian and Beatrice were fabulous at running our sound and lighting for us, which with only two hours technical time and a rather tech heavy piece was a mountainous experience! Thankyou, we owe you a pint, or two! They did sterling jobs, and thanks to Mr Sam Vivash who orchestrated the technicalities of the technical run and kept us all calm.
We had two rather perilous moments at which we held our breath and tried not to panic. We have been having some trouble with our tables, particularly their wheels. I remember many months ago hearing a suggestion ‘tables on wheels’ and thinking how fabulous it would be. Alas many times the wheels have broken, snapped, twisted and come clean off (only once during a performance). Unfortunately this happened twice during our time pressured technical rehearsal which was very frustrating, but everyone pitched in hunting for screws, replacement wheels, and torches to light the DIY wheel tweaking and we had them fixed. Fingers crossed with cracked on with the tech run and fortunately had no wheel incidents during the show.
It’s been a tricky point, working with an interactive set has brought highlights and beautifully intricate opportunities hand in hand with rehearsal time interrupted with broken wheels and logistics. There seems to be a line between having the set work for you and you working for the set. Don’t get me wrong we love the capabilities that the tables have brought to the piece, but looking to our next project and the tour of Send More Paper is there anything we can do to minimise time spent on this aspect of our work. Do we think the benefits outweigh the difficulties for using a similar system in the future or is this something you can’t be sure of until you try it? I think that its most likely that these difficulties don’t arise until you are well into the rehearsal or even touring process. I think its important to have your thoughts fully on the work and not concerned in what may or may not become a problem. There was a discussion when the wheels broke to whether we should adjust some movements in the piece to avoid moving the tables with people on them, thus avoiding a breakage. Mark encouraged us to keep it as it is and not let the set dictate the show. It felt all too easy in a moment of panic to change things, but I was pleased to hear a calm voice of reassurance. The show went well, tables behaved, we had a wonderful audience and I don’t think I’m alone in saying its exhilarating to perform with such an fab group. I’m sure there will always remain slight technical niggles when touring a piece but it’s brilliant to be a member of such a supportive, passionate company that cracks on, pulls together and strives to make the work the best it can be.
Edinburgh truly lived up to expectations and I am proud to have been part of the 2014 Fringe. Thank you SO much to everyone who helped us get the show to Edinburgh and all who come to see it, it was fabulous to have such a wonderful audience. The show is now on tour, first stop Customs House, South Shields produced by DepArts, if you missed us at Edinburgh, get yourself along we would love to see you there.