This morning we scheduled a session with Erica where we ran the whole piece with set and the props we had available, but unfortunately Leah was absent again and so Erica had to step in as Dollysmith and Granny, as well as trying to watch the run and give us notes.
I found that when running the piece today we had so much more energy and spark to our performances than we had so far – which was really promising! There were some moments ran a little slow however this was mainly because various members of the group were trying to do the run completely off book for the first time and so there were obviously a few mistakes which affected the pace. Nevertheless, Josh and Harry did really well to get through the whole show off book and with only minimal prompts. Daytona and I still had our scripts in hand, almost as a security blanket, however we did manage to do a lot of it without reading of our scripts and just had it there to prompt us if needed. Personally, this is something I always do in performances, and I am often the last to put down my script, as I hate not getting things right and worry about forgetting my lines or not knowing them well enough. I know that this is an insecurity that I need to get over soon so it doesn’t hold me back in future projects and become a problem, as I know deep down I do know the lines but convince myself that I don’t – just in case!
When running the whole show today we used the props such as the shapes trial and I found it massively helpful to have them there in the scene as it gave us something to refer to as use as a tool to demonstrate the properties to the audience more clearly, as we could point to the corners etc instead of just imagining it. It also gave Harry more to do as Sherlock in the scenes, as he could go around and collect the shapes from the trial in a detective like manner rather than just standing there and listening to the dialogue. By going around and picking up the shapes we found it also gave more of an illusion that we were in fact following a trial and were finding more shapes on the way. Even though this was such a small thing, it really helped me invest myself in the scene more and give a more believable performance that actually made sense of the narrative in my head.
Obviously one of the biggest challenges when practising a TIE piece is that you don’t have an audience there and therefore can not rehearse how we would respond to their answers and reactions. Nevertheless, in most rehearsals we tend to leave gaps as to where we expect the kids to interject and even call out random responses to catch each other out, much like a young child might. By doing this we are preparing ourselves for any responses that might otherwise catch us off guard and be difficult to respond to as if it wasn’t the answer we were asking for and expecting. In today’s I feel we were able to practice the audience participation better as we had the 2D shapes there to demonstrate with and thus came to the realisation of just how long it would take engage the children, then get the shapes out and show them each of the properties, interjecting random interactions and comments on it when necessary. This was interesting to see as it really slowed the pace down and allowed us to spend more time on the learning aspect, rather than just relying on sticking to the script and leaving gaps where we deemed appropriate. Although this was only a small change it showed how important it is to practice with props and how they can change the dynamics in a scene – obviously when we have actual children to perform to this dynamic is likely to change and intensify yet again!
As we had spent lots of time working on the last scene in our last rehearsal we all had to make sure we remembered all the new blocking and direction given, so not to fall back into old habits. I was actually really impressed with how we got on and felt that all the time we spent on re positioning each of the characters to level out the performance space paid of massively and just felt more natural rather than having us all bunched up on one side of the stage and then getting in each others way.