Friday 12th May 2017 – Saints and Sinners Stumble Though Run Reflections

My personal reflections on our first stumble through Run 

From my point of view the first stumble through was on the whole really positive, and while it in no way ran smoothly, it helped highlight the areas that were not quite working and the parts we need to pay more attention to our the upcoming rehearsals.

The opening number ‘St Jimmy’ didn’t get off to a good start as we were working to a different track than we were used to which has a different length introduction and so Sian entered a bar later than needed which then resulted in Emma and I being a line behind and getting out of time. However Jack was able to redeem this and start his section at the right time. This was the first time we had properly seen Jack perform this number and it was clear that he very much had taken inspiration from the GreenDay Musical ‘American Idiot’ and had even copied some of their choreography, and while it was good, I felt he needed to bring his ‘Saint Jimmy’ character, nightclub opener, into the way he performed and delivered the song. I feel this would help establish who his character is and the power and dominance he has over the club. Musically Jack wasn’t always pitching the notes 100% accurately, however this didn’t seem to matter as he made up for it by using his speech sing quality; nevertheless he needs to be careful of his diction as lots of his words got slurred and difficult to decipher what he was saying. The main thing that needs to be worked on on this number is staging and movement as it feels very empty at the moment (this point actually applies to the majority of the show during the run) as we didn’t have the rest of the company on stage at their tables and therefore there wasn’t anyone for Jack or the Waitress girls to interact with. Another thing that was mentioned when giving feedback was that Jack needs to sing in his accent that he is speaking in throughout the show and not adopt an American accent to sing in as it is not needed and in fact doesn’t help with the problem of diction and clarity. In addition to this, all the characters in the club are British and so it is unnecessary for anyone to put on an American accent while singing unless it is a character orientated decision.

Bring on the men was a shambles to say the least! Everything that I had feared going wrong regarding the vocals happened and the whole thing fell apart very quickly. Emma opening section was very pitchy and although I understand the fact we were using the new backing track (which has different timing to what we were used to) it was very obvious to those watching that she wasn’t comfortable holding the tune and keeping her pitching and timing. I felt in a dilemma as I wanted to support Emma and try and get her back on track but I was supposed to be on voice rest until Bonnie and Clyde show week and so wasn’t supposed to be singing out, and even when I did try and sing the tune in her ear she still struggled to match my tuning and timing and very much carried on doing what she was doing. I tried stamping my foot to keep the whole thing in time however this evidently didn’t help much as different people were singing at different times to different rhythms. If I had a voice as was able to sing out loudly I would have tried to do so to get the song back on track, but I knew I had to prioritise saving my voice and I couldn’t help but feeling embarrassed with the mess that ‘Bring on the Men’ was and tried to disassociate myself with what had happened. Although I was mainly focused on what was happening vocally, I made sure I watched what the dancers were doing and I could clearly see that they had spent time working on the choreography since the last showing and from when I rehearsed with them last week. I think they have captured the style well and are using the whole performance space and their costumes to their advantage to elevate the dance. However, as Birgitta mentioned in her feedback she felt the whole thing needed to feel a lot bigger and bolder and sexier in its delivery, and that the dancers should be singing in the chorus’ as I bigger sound is needed and by having the company singing it makes it far more exciting and will boost the energy and atmosphere of the piece. Sian and I had a brief chat after the run about what we were going to do about the whole singing aspect of it as we didn’t feel we could continue with it how it was and knew that this wasn’t something we could fix through rehearsing and needed a solution. We spoke to Lynn and explained that we didn’t want to take the opportunity of singing off Emma, however we also worried about the consequences if she struggles pitching on the night as it will through the whole song off and affect mine and Sian’s vocals too (as it is extremely difficult to stay on a vocal part when those around you are floundering. This is the only opportunity I get in the show to sing properly (as I mainly speak in the duet with Tom) and so I want this song to showcase my ability and fear that I might not be able to do this with the way it is arranged at present. I think we need to have a meeting to talk about how we can move forward with this piece and what is best for the show as a whole, but also as individual performers.

Although I think the link scenes between the waitresses and Jimmy and various other characters will work, they felt slightly out of place at times during this stumble through, which I’m almost certain was down to the staging of the interlude scenes and the fact we didn’t have the rest of the company sitting at tables on stage and creating that nightclub atmosphere. The whole idea is that these scenes are like ‘spotlights’ into the conversations that are happening around the club and that we, as an audience, are getting flashes into the storylines that are going on. Therefore these scenes should take place on whatever part of the set the characters are throughout the show and shouldn’t be ‘presented’ as such, but rather come out of the action that is already happening. I’m hoping that when we have the whole company on stage and acting as their character’s in the background throughout it will bring the whole thing alive and make the interlude scenes far less random and out of place.

‘Come to a party’ went well on the whole from an acting point of view, however there were a few moments where Tom got out of time with the track and had to catch up with himself to make sure he was in the right place, however this was something we have been working on in our private rehearsals to try and conquer the timing of speech and sung verses as it extremely challenging. Nevertheless I think we managed to get the idea of the situation across and how both of our characters felt about it. I was pleased with how my short section of the song went, although I used my spoken voice a lot more than I would usually as I am trying to rest my singing voice, nevertheless I think this worked well for my character and I managed to act my way through it. Once again the staging and blocking of the song looked quite strange during this run as there were no other tables for me to go up to and pretend to clean and so it ended up with me kind of flitting across the stage and ending up at the POSH boys table several times (which I know my character would do everything to avoid) however in this situation it was my only option as it was the only table on stage! We also messed up the ending a little as we got out of time with the track, but I know we can usually do this as we have practiced it many times to try and time the dialogue and Toms sung section at the end. One suggestion we received in the feedback was that we establish the idea that Toms character is doing this for the bet and doesn’t truly mean it, by having him occasionally look back a the POSH boys table for approval or to show off. I think this is a really good idea that we will take on board as it intensifies the scene and reiterates how horrible the whole concept is.
I started the run with the intention of remaining on stage throughout and interacting with the waitresses and other characters however this became difficult as no one else was really on the same page as me and seemed to be seeing this stagger through run as a show back or sharing rather than an attempt to stagger through what we were planning to perform as a whole. By having everyone on stage I think it will help the scenes feel more truthful and the audiences will understand why they are happening and what kind of characters are delivering them as they would have seen the interactions with other characters in the background. For example after the ‘Come to a party’ song I made an effort to go over to Emma who plays my character’s best friend so I could tell her all about the date and how excited I am and how I wasn’t going to say yes and then thought ‘why not!’ and just did it! By creating this extra strand to the storyline just through character interaction and miming the excitement, it makes the whole Dogfight concept far more bitter sweet and makes the audience feel stronger empathy for Rose at the end when she finds out. I personally think that it will be the little touches such as these that will help the show develop as a whole and show depth to characters rather than just presenting them.

My penultimate piece was my Queen Katherine, monologue which I direct at Harry’s character, Ed, in retaliation to him blaming Rose for the fall apart of their marriage. I regret that I was not yet off book for this run through, however I have been so weighed down with Bonnie and Clyde which opens this Wednesday, as well as writing extra scenes for the script and rehearsing the group pieces, that I have struggled or find time to do this still. I feel that considering the lack of attention this piece has had, I managed to pull it off relatively well due to the fact I understand the text and why my character Rose would be saying these words and the emotions that are fuelling it. At first I was really worried about how I was going to get a monologue so out of context to make sense for me and my characters storyline but I feel that by stripping it back and finding the emotional triggers and then connecting them back to Rose it helped me make it relevant to her. I feel that I managed it show Rose’s frustration and anger towards Ed in my voice and physicality however I worry that it was all on one level of dynamic and intensity and wonder if I might need to play around with this more. I haven’t yet received any feedback for my performance, however I am intending to ask around my peers and tutors for their opinions on the performance I gave today and how I could improve it.

Rebel was the final number and because I ways absent (due to my lack of voice) in our last rehearsal I hadn’t yet witnessed the work the rest of the company had done on the song. They had added some basic movement which was very simple and powerful, with random people filtering across the stage at various points, but other than that it was fairly stationary, with the company facing various angles and taking different positions on the stage. As I was not here for the blocking I was not aware of this and so after my monologue I went to sit on the POSH boy table and was joined by the other waitresses who comfort my character. While it wasn’t the same as everyone else I felt it worked really well and felt very natural and helped me put meaning behind the lyrics I was singing and helped me subtlety interact and share the moment with the people around me. I think that the feel we need to capture for this song is the idea that everyone is reflecting on themselves and the events of the evening and their life and are very much in their own bubble, but also acknowledging those around them. I noticed some other people doing this on stage as well as me and I found it very powerful and moving and think that as long as everyone really feels the emotion and connects to the song it will be a really powerful finale number.
From a vocal point of view I’m sure we can make improvements and clean it up slightly, however on the whole it was okay, especially considering not everyone in the company sings!

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One thought on “Friday 12th May 2017 – Saints and Sinners Stumble Though Run Reflections”

  1. You’ve been very practical about what needs doing and what the stumble-run exposed. You manage to balance well the desire to see things perfect with the knowledge that collaborative working sometimes means letting things take their own time! Regarding your observations about the linking scenes, what do you think needs doing in order to make them a slightly stronger frame to hang the set-pieces on? Characterisation? Pace? Positioning (you’ve spoken about this, how might it help?) Dynamics?

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