a personal rehearsal diary

by Scott Graham

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

Day 24 (last day of rehearsal)

(On the way in to work)

I finally realise why Mark is so keen to give these performance notes. He is not available next week so he will not see the giant strides the performers will take in Plymouth. Of course he wants to see it as close to performance level as possible because it will be a few weeks before he is free to see the show. And in that time he will be wondering and worrying about his new work and completely unable to do anything about it.


Today we go through the remaining sections of the show before our final run at 4 p.m. All goes well but the cast sit in silence at the end. They are in that awkward limbo position where they are only saying the words, doing the moves, doing their job and have absolutely no sense of the show. They can take no confidence from the run. Only the fact that they made it through without the need for prompting.

This is a real shame but I recognise this from a more extreme version with Peepshow (an earlier Frantic Assembly show). The set was a cross section of a block of flats where the lives of the inhabitants went on with little knowledge of each other. It is the audience, as voyeurs, who can see everything as we get attracted by a couple putting their lights on and then distracted by the argument on the landing. When this show opened the audience reactions were superb but the cast were really unhappy. It was after a couple of weeks that we finally realised the obvious. The cast had never seen the show. They cannot see each other. Some scenes were in silence, some were movement and these only felt like gaps to the performer who could not see them. The show was directed, or conducted even, from the front to create this constantly moving view of urban lives. When we realised the frustrations this caused we sat the cast down in front of a video of the show and explained all. It was amazing what we had taken for granted that the performers had no idea about. All was fine from there on.

With this show and this cast I feel it is going to be a case of just getting it out in front of an audience. Still, I will keep my eye on them and will not hesitate in getting a video of the performance to them. I understand that such a video kills the performance and many performers would find that difficult to watch but this is so they can see the show. Many performers operate their own little processes from within the show but the time comes when they definitely have to see how the show exists around them and, most importantly, how the show exists for the audience.