Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Caretaker - rehearsal diary week 2

Monday 16th – Wednesday 18th February
We thunder through the second half of the play at a pace. Monday sees Mick terrorising Davies with an electrolux – a thrilling scene that will ultimately be played out in the dark. Paul (Davies) practises this section by doing it with his eyes closed. His willingness to throw himself around the rusting set is astounding! Jeff (Mick) does a great sound effect of the electrolux in the absence of the soundtrack! He unleashes an energetic sense of charming chaos to this scene to the immense satisfaction of all in the rehearsal room. I spend quite a bit of time line bashing with Matthew (Aston) during the long afternoon.

Come the evening Jeff, Matthew and I retired to the pub and talked through ideas for the brother’s back-story. Pinter gives you so little about their relationship, yet a huge amount in their shared slight smile in Act Three.

Tuesday is a long line learning day for me! I have Jeff for much of the day. We work in the main house and hammer home a couple of scenes. We then work on some speeches – especially his rant to Davies which begins: ‘you’re stinking the place out’. The best way to gain clarity within this tirade of sales talk was to break it down into much smaller sections and find different energies within them. It is a brilliant section, which I personally love. Jeff is certainly starting to get to grips with it.
I later work with Matthew on his long monologue on electro-therapy. We discussed the process of this therapy and the treatment for manic depression or mental illness around this period. I had watched some footage of this kind of therapy recently – it was truly horrific viewing.
Wednesday leads us to the end of the play. Paul’s desperate, sad mumblings are spine tingling, and this was just the first bash at it. I spend more time during late morning working sections with Matthew and then Jeff in the main house. Scripts are beginning to disappear from the rehearsal room. Our hard work is paying off!

Now with the play covered once through we are planning to go through it all again. Each time we revisit scenes more layers of meaning, humour and invention are unpeeled. The next couple of days should be very exciting room in the rehearsal room.

Thursday 19th February
Today was dedicated to Aston and Davies’ scenes. Their banter at times is childlike in its simplicity, and there is such a difference in rhythms; Davies being a swirling tornado of energy and unrest, against Aston’s stillness. The first scene is especially intriguing to watch. The ignorant audience have to try and work out what is happening. Paul and Matthew’s interplay is a delight. Mark (Director) nudges them forward with some careful observations. The language and rhythm are really starting to fizz. Much more to come though.

Back in the main house during the afternoon, Jeff and I look at Mick’s character journey. There is a surprising amount of compassion within Mick in contrast to his tough exterior. His use of language is dazzling, and asks for a lot of vocal clarity and control from an actor. Jeff prowls around the stage as we attack some of the speeches.

Friday 20th February
I oversleep my alarm this morning, but manage to ride the 540 bus down to the Octagon just in time to start rehearsals. Matthew and I go over and over his long speech. He is essentially there on the lines now, and we try varying the speed of delivery. A line that comes up in discussion between us Aston’s admission: ‘I laid everything out in order, in my room, all the things I knew were mine, but I didn’t die’. This fascinating line gives us a potential insight into the internal workings of the character. Being surrounded by junk in the flat suddenly takes on a strange new meaning…Back in the rehearsal room Paul, Jeff and Matt embark on more bag snatching from Act Two. The tension and level of non-verbal communication is building.

Mark is very strict on observing the pauses properly and accurate with the text. This attention to detail helps gives the ‘elecrolux’ scene with Mick and Davies a pinging rhythm. The introduction of real sandwiches seems to make an incredible difference to the scene. Jeff (Mick) starts to relax into the zippy interplay. Amazing how a bit of bread can unlock so much!

Post-mid afternoon tea break, (Matthew is especially keen on his tea), we work on Mick and Davies’ scene in Act 3. Discussions on the best way to play the scene are at the forefront. Power and status shifts are explored. This is a scene where perhaps Davies perhaps seals part of his fate with his loud mouth. Plenty of energy buzzes around the room for a Friday afternoon. With another weekend for the good work of the last couple of days to settle, Week Three should be a treat.

Images: Joel Chester Fildes


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