a personal rehearsal diary
by Scott Graham
from the making of pool (no water) by Mark Ravenhill
Today started with good news. Steven has spoken with Mark who says he agrees that all of the vitriol expressed at the end by the artist is actually gleaned from the look she gives the four characters. This is a massive relief. As Mark has been unavailable and will continue to be for the next couple of weeks, part of the stress was just a fear of it not being resolved quickly. Now it is a case of convincing the performers that everything is OK despite the fact that the script cannot change until Mark returns. Mark has suggested that if there are any lines that help make sense of the end section then we should place them in. As competent as we are I don’t think this is the type of thing that reassures performers but we are just going to have to convince them and make them feel secure about what they know about the text.
Today has been quite a demanding day. We have been going through the text of the opening scene and choreographing each gesture and adjustment of each character sitting in their chair. This is painstaking, meticulous work and there are moments when the performers’ brains appear to melt. It must be very hard and frustrating to persevere with this process without a clear idea of the overall effect. At first the performers appear to resist, to maintain and fight for their own naturalism and timing. Our job is to convince them of the artistic intention and how that requires a precision that will command and control the viewer’s focus. But our job is also to remind the performer that they still have a roll to play and skills to offer. They can easily feel like our puppets here but once this choreography (for that is what it is and when this is understood, everything is easier) becomes second nature and embedded in a deep physical memory then the details the performers want to offer can emerge.
After a very slow start progress picks up and they start delivering the choreography to a satisfactory standard. It will be a real test to see how they retain this though as I am sure we have not yet reached that physical memory stage.