a personal rehearsal diary

by Scott Graham

from the making of pool (no water) by Mark Ravenhill

Day 17

The meeting is good and we now have a plan and structure for the rest of the rehearsals. We have decided to work on the assumption that the absent actor will not be returning this week.

The day is not a very good one for me. I see the same pattern happen again. Steven leads them through some additions to a complex physical section and they are focused and energised and then when I take them through a new section they appear little more than glassy eyed and vapid! I was sure that the instructions were so simple that they could not fail to get it right but occasionally I was dumbfounded. I think I am completely unclear. Or the idea is rubbish and is just being sabotaged by a lack of commitment and application.

It made me think of a quote from Rufus Norris that appeared in a newspaper when we were making Market Boy. He said there were times when he thought he was a rubbish director. Knowing Rufus and watching him go through a difficult rehearsal process I truly believe there are moments when he thinks this. But does he believe this? Does it fade? Surely it must because he is a brilliant director. I find myself thinking the same thing but I do not feel I have had my moments of brilliance to allay my fears. This fear feels like it runs deep.

When I left tonight I felt down and exhausted. I found myself trying to work out whether we could survive financially if I gave it up and became a house husband. And then I bumped into Rufus Norris.

There he was walking towards our rehearsal room as I was walking away. He is at a similar stage with his show (Cabaret) and we joked that we should keep walking and swap over. While I laugh I have no desire to jump from the frying pan into the fire. It is not a change in scenery that I need. It is a change in me. I am just not sure of what I have to offer at the moment. And if I am not doing this what can I do? (My calculations have ruled out house husband.)

During our earlier meeting Steven and I talked about getting new experiences before we embark on a new show. Some kind of refreshing training experience. On my way home I am thinking more about this. It would be great to get some more experience with choreography, getting a taste for a whole new vocabulary. Steven stated how we have been living off the approach we were introduced to by Liam Steel and he is damn right. And that was six years ago. But how and where can I find this? And at the moment my body feels like a train wreck.

I think about the possibility of assisting another director. Shadowing on a project where I can offer help as well as observe new approaches. Working with Rufus may be a good example. An experience where I can think like a director rather than feeling inhibited by my role as movement director as it was with Market Boy. I don’t know. But the need is definitely there. It is important to log this so that, even if pool (no water) is a great success, I do not kid myself that everything is rosy only to get to the next project and find myself feeling like this again.

And a good night’s sleep would not go amiss. The commute can be up to two hours each way and we are doing some 12-hour rehearsal days at the moment. This, the childcare in the mornings and the DIY needed on the house at the weekend and the odd evening is wearing me out. Today I felt battered and unhealthy and I know I am not going to feel a whole lot better tomorrow. That does not make me long for work. It is not the kind of attitude that is going to inspire anyone else. And so the vicious circle continues.


Tomorrow I want to start with a section I will lead. I was going to guide them through a creative process with stages of discovery but now I decide to set the material myself and just teach them it. It is cleaner and clearer. That way I cannot get myself into a situation where I am apologising for asking them to do something just so that they have a sense of ownership over what they produce. For my own sanity I must just get stuck in.


I also realise that I have raised issues with the set that I have not informed you about. The fact is that there was no sudden flash of inspiration from anyone over the weekend so the situation is ongoing. It is not a problem as I have every confidence in Miriam Beuther. She seems very open and honest about the set. (Don’t get me wrong, the set is brilliant. I am only talking about the finishing touches. The fact that I can is a luxury I have Miriam and Plymouth Theatre Royal to thank for.)