With the pressure of showcase and dissertations submitted…it’s time to focus on the final show of our training at Trinity Laban. Perhaps it’s just me; but I know that the next five weeks will be filled to the brim with a variety of emotions. We’ve been through highs and lows as a group…and we’re slowly realising that we won’t be together soon for much longer after three years. That sentimental moment aside – We are loving life in Eastwick so far!
I’m Marika and am playing the role of Eastwick’s first Iron Lady matriarch Felicia Gabriel. I am going to be blogging life direct from the rehearsal room when I can. Additionally, Lydia (Alexandra Spoffard – in short one of the three Witches who was played by Cher in the film version – yes she has big hair) is our resident rehearsal photographer to show you what we get up to every week day! ‘Hashtag Lydia Davidson : #RehearsalSnapper’
Since our graduate show was announced by Vicki (or Stretton as I affectionately call her), we have been so excited; particularly because a few of us were campaigning for The Witches of Eastwick to be our final show. It has been a while since a Musical Theatre graduating year has performed this show. There has been a buzz surrounding our production, before rehearsals began via social networking and friends at other institutions.
Our creative team seem to know exactly what they want and are working us all very hard. This is going to be a big production (arguably the most ambitious production that Trinity Laban has mounted – what with the flying…magic…various objects being thrown up by me, a church falling down…) We are all determined to make it the best it can possibly be.
Every rehearsal process begins with the read through. This involves us reading aloud through everything (yes, even the songs) in our various accents, marking cuts and discussing any changes that the creatives have made between the auditions and now. It was really exciting to hear everyone in their assigned roles and the dialogue coming to life off the pages before it has even been staged. (Exciting times!)
This first week has been full on; although it has been fun; we have all been drained because it’s such a high energy show. We have accomplished quite a lot already with learning most of the big ensemble numbers musically as well as choreographing them too. These include Eastwick Knows, Darryl Van Horne, Dance With the Devil and Dirty Landry. Damien (choreographer) has done a fantastic job especially with some ‘chair’ography’ and ‘tea towel’ography.’ (Of course…I won’t ruin what we have in store; but you will have to come and see us in action to find out)
One issue that some of us have been dealing with – Why aren’t dance shoes made more comfortable? The ladies of Eastwick are not asking much Capezio; sort out your stage heels out please! (We are suffering blisters, pinched toes, swollen feet…) It’s not beauty but we’re most definitely suffering pain for our art! Or in the words of Sondheim, ‘Art isn’t easy.’
We are very fortunate to have a fantastic voice coach Tom who is a MA Voice Studies student at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He is also American so we can trust that he can help us with words that we struggle with! We are using standard American accents but in order to stay true to the text, we are incorporating New England vowels etc, so we can entrust Tom to guide us. He also has that ability to explain things in remarkable detail but simplify it.
Research is an integral part of anything we do as actors. We have been asked to find photos of what our various characters’ houses would look like and how we envision the town of Eastwick to be, from the clues given in the script. It’s like piecing together a puzzle. So far, it seems very Desperate Housewives, with a hint of coast line thrown in.
Naomi also work shopped us using improvisation for ideas on how we would set the opening scene – personally I find this approach awesome as often the best ideas derive from an organic process such as improv. Damian moulded our ideas into movement and before we knew it, we had choreographed the opening to The Witches of Eastwick! We also have been ‘actioning’ the script as developed by British director Max Stafford Clark. This simply means applying a verb to a text to achieve an objective!
As well as being a full scale production; the show itself is a very challenging one to learn in four weeks as we were told by Naomi (director) and Robert (musical director) on our first day. The graft doesn’t stop inside the rehearsal room; it continues outside too – we have script work, harmony learning, character research, going over choreography, accent practising and doing anything else we are asked to do by our team.
It’s full on and as we further immerse ourselves in everything Eastwick it will become even more intense. You find yourself humming various lines from the music almost every hour of the day or quoting lines that just stick in your mind. When you’re in a rehearsal room 9am-6pm every single week day and then going away to prepare for the following day…you slowly begin to realise that The Witches of Eastwick is taking over your life.
Stay posted for the next installment of everything Witches…
If you’re on Twitter, please hashtag #TheWitchesofEastwick @trinitylaban @tlmtweets;
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