a personal rehearsal diary

by Scott Graham

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

Day 25 (on the way to Plymouth)

This is the interesting part. This is when it potentially lifts off or unravels. For the next day and a half the performers will be working without the set and we will be looking at sections in detail. This is where we have to really get our heads around this show. There is also the potential for paranoid navel gazing and hysteria. I wish I could reassure the cast. They just do not seem to respond to it. They are very reserved and not at all confident about the quality of the show. It is true that it has a long way to go and it is equally true that it is now a lot to do with their performance but I have a lot of faith in them. I am really excited to see where they take us. I guess that is it all round. They give nothing away but they are coiled, full of potential. That is just the right side of exciting and just far enough away from terrifying and annoying.


I am on a completely different schedule down here in Plymouth. I do not have the hour and a half each way from work to fit in all my writing. I managed to fit in quite a bit of work on the resource pack on the train on the way down but my discipline is going to be tested by this new regime. It is approaching 1 a.m. and I have been awake since 6.30. I have also had a few drinks with the other creatives in our shared flat. This is one of the joys of production week in Plymouth. The others are being welcomed like old friends by everyone from the stage door lady to the artistic director to the canteen lady. The downsides include not waking up to my little girl in the morning. I am really missing her and I have been away less than a day.

Anyway ...

Today has been a bit of a revelation. Not necessarily a good one.

We took the cast to the TR2 rehearsal rooms in Plymouth and went through sections of the show that needed work and could be worked on without the set. The cast respond positively to this session but there is still that aloofness. And this is where the revelation lies. It becomes apparent that Steven feels the same way about them. They are an intriguing bunch with their own unique dynamic. We have worked with them for over five weeks now and we do not know them much more than when we started. They are very reserved or have lost that generosity they once appeared to have. When we finish a detailed talk through the show I say that it has been useful and only then, almost grudgingly, does someone agree. I do not expect thanks and bouquets but I do expect some interaction and the lack of such is frustrating. Maybe we have been spoiled/blessed with a certain type of performer in the past but here we have four brilliant performers (and I really believe that) who I am convinced will deliver on stage but just do not give us that same level of interaction as other casts have given. We are not looking for them to be our friends but it seems that every other Frantic show has just worked out like that. And I miss it. Maybe it is a combination of them never having seen our work, reserving their trust, and having come through a casting agent. It just feels like we have not got as close to them as we would have thought. Now this is an interesting situation. Is this the future? Is this normal? Is this what the actors expect and what every other director gets? It is possible that our previous productions have created a cult of Frantic where everyone has felt close and part of something. The creative team apart this will not be the case here unless there is a great turnaround once the cast get the show in front of the public and it goes well.