Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A thrilling glimpse in the tech rehearsal for The Odyssey at Derby Theatre

Once again I found myself connected to Derby Theatre's stunning production of Mike Kenny's adaptation of Homer's classic story - The Odyssey. This time my visit was to the theatre itself.

Technical rehearsals are as the words imply - mainly for the technical crew - and are necessary to create the full production. In such rehearsals the development of setting up the scenes are very exacting and need a great deal of attention from each person involved - including the director (Sarah Brigham) and the stage manager and all connected with the audio/visual sides and much more besides. To an outsider they can seem a drawn out affair but each element needs to be very organised and secure to ensure a safe and competent production if not a superior one. The director's role is to envisage and accomplish a unified vision of the play collected from the original script and a working hands on creative process with the actors and creative team and in some cases (like The Odyssey) with the writer/playwright working through drafts of the play's evolution to the finished product.

On my arrival I was very impressed with the multifunctional set with a huge and manoeuvrable circular dais. All is military and camouflage with webbing hanging from the rigging framing the picture. Sails were raised and fell and a Greek style door appeared to offer a scene change.  The costumes worn by the actors in the opening scenes are also army style.

The hardest part of writing this is not to reveal the amazing scene which will have the audience jumping out of their seats at the very start of the play. Whilst I was present a lot of work was put into making sure that this worked perfectly and the sight lines were spot on and no actors could be seen.

I was starting to get used to this world of 'cans', markers and pre-sets and set ups and exclamations of "heads up - lines coming in on auditorium left and auditorium right." All the time I was there there was a continuous quiet industry of plotting lighting and sound effects and requisite levels and a relaxed authority from Sarah Brigham the director.

Just before the break I got to see the scene where the Gods start to play out Odysseus's story and this calls for some pyrotechnics. There was a run through of the practicalities of live flame on the stage and the extinguishing of it with sand as part of the action.

Before the rehearsal began I got the chance to chat with Wole who plays Odysseus and Emma who plays various parts including Penelope his wife. My interview with Wole and Emma earlier in the rehearsal process can be read HERE. Plus I enjoyed a fun chat with Christopher Price who I had previously seen playing the role of Peter in the touring production of Dennis Potter's play Blue Remembered Hills. Christopher impressed me as the cruel and bullying Peter last June and is the mythical Cyclops and a variety of other ensemble roles in Derby Theatre production of  The Odyssey. All the cast seemed a dedicated, theatrically established and very friendly, versatile group of actors.

My photos aren't the best in this  blogpost due to low light conditions and the limitations of my camera's lens that doesn't have the capacity to open up the iris to let in more light but I hope they give a flavour of what looks to be a wonderful production and I for one cannot wait until press night on the 17th of Feb! It will be spectacular and surprisingly emotional in the second half as Odysseus struggles to return to his homeland in mind and body and he has the final and most difficult challenge of his 'journey' in defeating the evil suitors who are determined to take away his wife and his hard won kingdom.

For an insight into the rehearsals of The Odyssey at Derby Theatre check out my previous blogpost
at this LINK.

Want to hear what the actors themselves think about the production and their roles? Well you can through AUDIO BOO. Click and enjoy!

The Odyssey starts 14th Feb until 1st March 2014 and looks to be long remembered classic for Derby Theatre.

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