So, after three months of learning Alan Bennett's A Chip In The Sugar I now feel I am ready to perform it in Karlsruhe mid May.
I have had to fit in my rehearsals where I can and do a full time job as well and, of late, I have been rehearsing at the Lace Market Theatre ready for a members only pre-view on May 13th before the group goes to Germany on the 18th.
It has been an interesting journey, the text interpretation getting subtler over the last week or so. Because I have made sure that I know the script very well with time to spare this has given me the opportunity to play around with it a bit and become ultra familiar with the rhythms and subjects. As you may be able to see from the picture above, there are many large passages of text and later in the piece the main character, Graham, starts to reveal his anxieties and breaks away from the story telling to sit quietly in his room (depicted by an armchair). In my rehearsals last week I was having a bit of trouble with mental blanks and realised it was these transitions that were causing the problem. Lots of time concentrating on the main text and character(s) portrayal, less time on the equally important asides were the culprits.
I have also learnt a lot about the techniques of doing one man shows through my experience of performing A Christmas Carol in Germany and UK last December and my training on my Performance Art degree course have all helped me to develop a method and style of solo performance. This is particularly important with using the voice to portray characters in A Chip In The Sugar and also demonstrating the geography of the characters on stage and keeping a connection with them as an actor. In the simplest of terms - not having the character -Mr Turnbull - mentally to the left of me and suddenly he's over on the right for no reason at all. Also I have used a style of speaking across to 'Mother' for example (seeing her sitting in the chair) and then saying her lines for her forward facing the audience. It's like seeing the character from different angles. Well, that's my intention anyway.
Having a few friends in to watch the rehearsals has helped as the added 'pressure' to perform brings its own rewards and lessons learnt. So thank you to Janette, Paul, Colin, Hilary and David for being my audience. Hilary was particularly helpful and a great laugher. An actor needs to be able to ride the laughs.
Max Bromley suggested slowing some the dialogue down for the German audiences because it is very colloquial in style and another friend - wise in the ways of the theatre - said give yourself time to enjoy any business and don't feel you have to keep talking all the time. On this note I have improved the piece by allowing my character time to go from one time slot to another or one situation change to another. It works so much better that way.
Plus, I created a qulaity CD for myself to listen to myself performing the piece well and have given copies to some friends and acquaintances to listen to and the feedback has been very favourable. One couple said they had listened to it twice and it was like listening to a radio play - only better. Thus encouraged I am now ready to perform the piece in Germany. I can't wait.
|Phil Lowe as Graham|