Theresa Keogh was a member of last year’s STEP UP Creatives Ensemble (2012 /13). She is now our resident Trainee Director and is currently assisting on The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock. She’ll be writing a regular blog about her time in the rehearsal room…
The last month has flown by; we are currently in tech week. While the lighting and sound are being refined and polished, the set is being transferred from our rehearsal room to The Curve studio. It’s a hive of activity as simultaneously the actors are rehearsing. With the show already on its feet they are having a series of run-throughs in the lead up to the technical rehearsal.
As everything is being transferred to the studio they perform a run through without set, lighting, costume and sound- a pared back rehearsal which really highlights the extraordinary capability of our cast. Martin Miller embodies Hitchcock, it’s uncanny. He really inhabits the role and four weeks in I find it difficult to reconcile our cast with their characters. Anthony Wise is a ball of energy every morning and yet in seconds he transforms into the coolly still priest. And they are transformations you can witness for yourself as Roberta Kerr moves between her dual roles as Hitchcock’s wife and mother seamlessly and Tom McHugh between the Waiter and Screenwriter.
This move between characters is something I witnessed Tom do spectacularly just a month ago in Edinburgh in the New Perspectives show The Boss of it All– people still constantly ask me which of his two characters, Nalle and Finnur, Tom is most like… the truth is neither! There is no doubt how incredible the lighting, sound and set are in the production but it’s great to see that at the very heart of our show are brilliant performances of such a nuanced script.
Theresa Keogh- Assistant Director
Hello and welcome!
Firstly, thank you very much coming here and reading this post.
You have got absolutely no idea how long I’ve been trying to write this… Take a guess?
This blog has been 1 month and 5 days in the making to be precise… Why so long you ask? Well, needless to say I’ve been at Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the whole of August and everytime I have sat down at my laptop to even write just a few bullet points – I’ve found myself drawn away to do another task. We’re 17 days on now and I’ve still got the post-Fringe blues.
As you may or may not know, I was a part of The STEP UP Creatives Ensemble between 2011-2012 with New Perspectives Theatre Company. While there I learnt a huge amount of skills from comtemporary devising to acro-balance. To cut a long story short, I met an amazing group of people who I will always be able to turn to and learn from. We created a performance called Goldfish which toured to theatres and village halls throughout the East Midlands.
As always, it was a pleasure to see Tilly Branson pop up in my email. She asked me to write a short blog post to see how I was getting on as a STEP UP alumni… and here I am.
I won’t blabber on and bore you senseless but rather give you a quick overview of what I’m up to.
So, over the last year I have been working my socks off to create my own theatre company with 4 other graduates… and we have actually pulled it off! Nowadays, with the lack of £££ for the Arts (insert whinge here) it’s no easy feat. Working 3 other jobs is really the only way to pay the rent (unless you have a rich uncle).
There are two strands to my business- The first is Youth and Talent Development, the other is National Touring. Our first show ‘Riot’ has been performed in several different parts of the country in schools and youth centres. We have also run workshops to look at the Young Persons skills as well as the issues discovered in the piece which looks at the 2011 UK Riots.
The other strand to my business is National Touring – (Exposed) – The show was originally developed as a dissertation equivalent performance which takes a look at our impulses and how we experience them in everyday life. That was May 2012. It’s now September 2013 and the show that exists is a completely new beast. It’s packed full of Ensemble movement, physical theatre, comedy, experimental projection and intense drama. Essentially, we pose a question to the audience to make them reflect, think about and consider their impulses and how they are restricted. After a full run at Edinburgh Festival with very good audience sizes, Impulse Collective are ready to expand the show using more complex technology for a tour in February/March 2014. Watch this space.
If you’re interested in seeing the reviews of ‘Exposed’ there are plenty here including a very good ★★★★★ review from FringeGuru http://www.impulsecollective.co.uk/reviews.html
If you made it this far in the blog – thanks!
That’s all from me for now. If you fancy getting in touch please do so- I’m always up for meeting new people and chatting about everything from theatre to life in general.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @heseltine23 / @ImpulseCollect
Facebook – www.facebook.com/ImpulseCollective
Website – www.impulsecollective.co.uk
Becci is a director and was part of the first ever STEP UP Creatives training ensemble from 2011-2012. Here’s what she has been up to since:
So where am I now? Thinking back to how I felt this time last year is mind blowing. When I started the STEP UP scheme I was a performer with no confidence or self belief. I ended the scheme as a director, with bounds of confidence and enthusiasm, ready to go out into the world and start making a career for myself. STEP UP was an amazing experience for me because it made me realise who I am, what I want, and what I am good at. Somehow during the process I realised that I want to direct and I always have! Since then I have been taking any opportunity to learn a new approach, collaborate with other artists, develop my knowledge and skills and direct stuff!!
Since STEP UP I have been up lots of weird and wonderful things! Here are just a few highlights:
- I have worked on a project with Australian Theatre Practitioner Rosie Dennis on a devised theatre project which we performed as part of Dance 4s Nott Dance festival.
- I directed two plays as part of the quickest theatre festival in the world at Leicester’s Y theatre where we rehearsed and performed 14 plays in 48 hours.
- I also worked as assistant youth theatre leader to The Gramophones Theatre Company at Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham and am now running a group of my own from September as part of The Spect-Actors Theatre Company – a company which I and Lucina Thorpe formed this year! We formed the company as part of Curves Young Arts Entrepreneurs scheme, a scheme for artists in Leicestershire that have creative ideas for projects which can be turned into arts enterprise. As part of this scheme we were awarded a grant to create our first original piece of theatre as well as loads of mentoring and support. At the moment we are devising a performance with professional actors which we will perform at Curve in Leicester in October – so watch this space!
- I am also currently directing a play as part of Mashed, a new writing festival in Leicester organised by Original Ink.
It has been an amazing year, I do not think I would have achieved half as much without the support of Tilly Branson and the STEP UP programme. STEP UP helped me to develop the confidence to call myself an artist and put myself out there. This past year I have won funding bids, directed plays, facilitated workshops at festivals, delivered education projects in schools, collaborated with lots of amazing artists, been to see loads of theatre and more. I feel so lucky to have been part of Step Up; I had a great time, and learnt loads about myself, theatre-making and arts business. I developed my confidence to get out there and try it and most of all I made friends for life!
Thanks New Perspectives!
Find out more about The Spect-Actors
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This week we have been rehearsing our show Due Course full time, Monday to Saturday. As one of the two stage managers in the ensemble, I’ve been pouring various combinations of liquids (including black tea and soda water, apple cordial and very weak lager shandy) into several different receptacles to feign alcoholic drinks.
At other times, myself and Elanor have been resetting crates for the stage, helping the designers to paint flats and going on shopping trips – whenever we haven’t been in the rehearsal room on book, taking notes and acting as prompt. The week has been intense but enjoyable.
One of the most memorable moments for me was standing in for Ellen for a run through. I am not an actor, so this was a rather strange experience – and I was on the verge of bursting out laughing a number of times! I honestly don’t know how the actors do it, but I guess that’s they’re job!
I’m looking forward to getting started with the performances, and our tech day at Create theatre in Mansfield on Monday. It’s going to be another learning curve…
Charlotte Tomlinson, STEP UP Creatives Assistant Stage Manager
Monday 24 June 2013
First day of rehearsals for Due Course. Pretty easy day for me really – Mel’s Leaving Do and Priorities were being rehearsed, neither of which I’m actually in. Instead I spent most of the day writing another bridging sequence (with the help of Debs) and running lines with people. Spent the last hour working on the prologue, which is still looking fairly messy – we made some progress, but it feels like this section has a long way to go.
Tuesday 25th June
Better day today, felt like we nailed the prologue down a lot more this morning. Tilly introduced some Lecoq stuff to the ensemble which helped a lot in creating diversity in our movement styles. Also had some fun creating tableaus from the various plays using costumes – Chris and I were accused of ‘sexually abusing the show’ by Tilly.
Played a game of keepy-up which is apparently going to be an ongoing thing – I let the team down repeatedly in establishing a decent record, but it was fun. I seem to be establishing a reputation for being clumsy, ripping maps in half and snickering at innuendos (I do this a lot- but surely ‘Croom is playing with Susannah’ deserved a laugh).
The afternoon was good too – worked through Until Then. Script is down now so finally getting comfortable with the character of Liam. Got my costume now as well – snazzy cardy over browny-green ‘river person’ gear. Finally got to see a run of Mel’s Leaving Do, which I really enjoyed – some interesting but good choices have been made. It is horrifically awkward and Tilly has really extracted the comedy from certain bits- for example, when Ryan (Chris) makes his drunken speech it seems like he is about to stop at one point, much to Tim’s (Sam’s) relief, but then he carries on.
Spent some time practicing dressing Chris as Croom, which was a bit awkward but fun and I think it will look pretty cool. Overall it felt like a full, productive day – we still have a lot of work to do, however.
Note of the day from Tilly: ‘please do not refer to your fellow actors as “fridge”.’
Wednesday 26th June
Got to New Perspectives sickeningly early – even so, I was the 8th person there. People seem to be getting keener as the week goes on.
Started with a long vocal warm up, which was surprisingly effective – my voice felt quite powerful by the end of it. After this we spent a long time working through the prologue – we have a lot of the costume and set/props now so this was a lot more fruitful, and it felt like we made considerable progress with it.
Began running through properly after lunch, with the beginning of Until Then followed by the play itself. This felt okay, although I got a little bit tongue-tied and the new set took a while to get used to. Made it through the Until Then/Mel’s Leaving Do bridging sequence after much repetition. There’s a bit where I guzzle of mouthful of what is supposed to be white wine, but is actually apple squash. I grimaced, and Tilly asked if I was going to be okay to drink it- totally convinced by my brilliant acting.
I’m aware of how little time we’ve spent on the latter 2 plays, but the method of running through the whole thing in order means that we’ll be working on that stuff solidly tomorrow. This feels like a slightly odd way of working (normally I would expect to fully block and rehearse the scripted plays separately before looking at scene changes), but it seems logical when it comes to this show.
Current keepy-up record is now 38 after a spectacular round just after lunch.
Friday 28th June
Two-thirds of the way through rehearsals, and the tiredness that has begun to strike people down has finally hit me. Today we began doing stumble-throughs of the entire show. We did surprisingly well, I thought – a few hiccups, but after today it feels like we actually have a show.
The much-anticipated pasty-day was a bit of a disappointment – no veggie pasties left, which ruled out several ensemble members. There were actually only 2 pasties left, which Jen and I snapped up. Much annoyance as my big bag of doritos had disappeared from the cupboard, and no-one in the building claimed responsibility. Laura and Emma P were temporarily the prime suspects, as they had stayed in the building til late last night and weren’t around to deny it – but it turns out they had no idea about it.
Saturday 29th June
Armed forces day nearly made me late – had to walk up to Royal Centre to catch the tram. When I told Tilly about my missing doritos she said it was the angriest she’d ever seen me.
Really put through my paces today – This morning Debs and I were led through a series of exercises to loosen up more and access our characters better. This was fun – most of it was centred around box-stacking while maintaining a certain behavioural quirk (written on flashcards), and we also did some work on maintaining eye-contact while stacking crates.
The most productive part, though, was where we had to insert a certain rude word into our lines, to help us find the correct emphasis – which was incredibly useful. This enabled me to be a lot angrier as Liam. Also I was forced to go through Until Then without letting my hands drop below my waist (my hands have always been a problem in acting), which felt awkward but gave me a better idea of what I should be doing – I suppose even if a hand gesture seems like too much it will always look smaller on stage. We also did some stuff with objectives, which was done using footballs – I had to try and give Debs a ball while she tried to take one off Theresa (who was filling in for Jen).
Exhausting but useful morning. Final pot of coffee at lunch, shared by Emma H, Charlotte, Debs and myself. Feel glad to have provided the cast with a fix of proper coffee each day.
Did two full run-throughs this afternoon- minus Ellen, who had to work today. Charlotte stood in for her, while Tilly read her lines – this was surreal, but Charlotte did a brilliant job considering the complexity of all the routines we’ve established this week. First run wasn’t brilliant – I forgot a lot of the Liam stuff we’d come up with this morning (although Tilly said she was very impressed) and a few things went wrong with the scene changes. Second run was a lot better. Finished the day by packing all the props up ready to be loaded into the van on Monday. Excited – it all feels real now, and I believe that this has the potential to be a brilliant show.
Waited around for a lift afterwards, and Laura and Emma P joked that I looked like the kid whose parents had forgotten to pick him up. They have done some excellent work, and have put in tons of hours to get everything ready. I feel like the combination of the brilliant design, gorgeously atmospheric music (written by Chris), slick acting and excellent scripts will make this a top-notch show. Not to forget the rigorous direction by Tilly and Theresa and tireless organisational efforts by producers Charlotte and Elanor, without which we’d have only a pale imitation of a piece of theatre.