This is my fifth production with Creation. My first being Henry V (staged at Oxford Castle). On that project I remember rehearsing in a garage warehouse and at one point a school playground. Back then there was no running hot water, we plugged heaters into the walls and all took turns to bring in satsuma’s and cake for the tea breaks.
A few years on and not all that much has changed.
Creation are still banging out classic stories old and new as a no nonsense outfit of extraordinarily hard working, talented and incredibly lovely human beings and the absolute nits tits when it comes to storytelling. No idea too ambitious, no venue too challenging. I cut my first acting teeth with them and today they continue to challenge me and keep me on my toes by pooling together the best creatives in the industry. This project is no different. Our director is bursting with new ideas and fresh approaches to the text making our rehearsal process a sheer joy.
Before you start any job it seems you must first convince yourself that there has been a terrible mix up in the casting process and that you have somehow slipped through the net as a talentless charlatan. You look wrong, you sound wrong and by the time that first meet and greet comes round you can barely hold a script still in your hands, as the actors take turns in fumbling first lines and chewing on pencils. This time round we enjoyed our first read through on its feet whilst also playing a simple exercise of ‘balancing the rehearsal space’. It took the pressure off us having to give a ‘performance’ on day one by focusing all our nervous energy into not bumping into the furniture, or each other and to be fair got ideas flowing from the off.
It always feels like a mountain to climb at the start of week one as you slowly unearth further material to learn, music, movement, new characters, script edits and the dreaded ‘p’ word, that I am sure all actors loath at first mention, ‘pre-show’. There is always a great deal of laughter thank heavens otherwise quite frankly what’s the point! You play, discover, fail, try again, make tea, find solutions, trust in the work, make more tea, keep moving forward and sometimes just get your head down and learn the bloody lines! It’s the best job in the world as far as I’m concerned. At the end of three weeks (never enough time) you somehow always have a story to tell and if you’ve grafted hard enough and kept faith in the text and each other, there is a tremendous sense of ownership in the work and an eagerness to share it with an audience. I am particularly proud of this company and all its creatives that have worked tirelessly to bring this brilliant adaptation to life. It is also far too easy to take excellent writing for granted. We are doubly blessed with not only an exceptional script but also a beautiful score.
I hope you can join us at Blackwell’s for what is proving to be a hysterical, heartbreaking, challenging and intriguing carriage ride through Dickensian England that shows up the very best and the very worst that the Victorians had to offer!
Book to see Bleak House here!