It has started! This is when the exciting stuff happens, when every department who has been planning and re-planning since this production was announced, comes together to make theatre magic.
Rehearsals for Macbeth (an undoing) started last week with a room full of cast and creatives who have all come together to make this production. Starting a new season is always a wonderful experience and, especially after COVID, it was so amazing to have so many creative people in one room all working towards the same goal, buzzing with creativity and excitement.
The meet and greet
Before everyone arrives, the designers Tom and Alex have covered the walls in their designs for costume and set, and a model box of the stage (a mini stage, 1.25 scale, of the actual stage) has been set up in the corner. It is important that the cast and creatives can see this before rehearsals start as it allows everyone to have a clear understanding of the world that is being created by not only the designers but the actors too.
There is a hugely warm welcome as we go around the room and introduce ourselves to the group – saying our names and what our roles are to do with the show.
Next, everyone sat around a table and the cast did a read through of Harris’ final script. If you haven’t got your tickets yet I suggest you go and get them, (after reading this), you don’t want to miss this show…
It was then time for the Rehearsal Room doors to close to allow the company space and time to get to know each other. Building relationships within the company is such an important starting point for Zinnie, to get the best out of her cast they need to feel comfortable and safe with each other. This script goes to some intense places and trusting that the other people in the room are behind you is what makes a performance great.
Day 3: (Friday)
Today is all about using the Movement Director as they are only with the cast for one day this week. Their job isn’t only about sections of big group movement on stage such as parties and ensemble moments, they are also there to look at actors positioning on stage, the space between them, little gestures and helping with utilising the whole of the stage in scenes. Think about them as someone who sees the visual of the piece rather than the acting and delivery of lines, and how the movement reflects the language and the characters in the scene.
Today, the company focuses on two moments, the opening and King Duncan’s arrival and celebration. The opening was worked on previously but now, with the Movement Director, they are revisiting it again. Zinnie works through the scene, describing her intent behind lines, words and phrases, in a collaborative conversation between her and the actors. This is something that is repeated with every scene that the group works on.
The start of the afternoon is taken up with working on the opening followed by a short tea break in which the actors all sit and go through the lines for the next scene – this helps them get off script as quickly as possible allowing them to focus more on their performance.
At 3:30pm, it’s on to King Duncan’s arrival at Cawdor Castle (the home of the Macbeths).
Scenes that haven’t been worked on before are run through by the actors, essentially improvising the movement (not the lines) so that Zinnie can see how the actors feel most natural performing the scene. She will then ask the company how they felt and what their motive was, talk about how she felt, and highlight moments that worked and things that could be changed. The actors also come to rehearsals with their ideas about their character within the scene as they will have read through it beforehand.
Then it’s onto blocking and working through the scene by pulling it apart & slowing it down...
Day 4: (Saturday)
Yep, the company rehearses on a Saturday. The morning focuses on smaller scenes that happen between Macbeth and Banquo, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and another scene (I won’t say between who because of spoilers!). The whole company is called after lunch to work on a scene with all of them even though things are a little behind schedule. It is always so hard to create an accurate rehearsal schedule before the day as some scenes, which may seem small on the page, can take the longest to get right and end up having the most questions to ask, alternative ways of performing and intentions behind the lines. It is an excitingly busy day and a lot gets done.