And with a week to go until the tour kicks off, intensive rehearsals for Bind (iceandfire’s new play for young people) are under way.
Rehearsals so far have seen scientific adviser Dr Tom Churcher from Imperial College London add his, well, scientific advice into the mix, along with movement choreographer Mary Connelly and composer Verity Simmons adding their creative and artistic input, all under the direction of Sara Masters.
Ann Akin and Sabrina Grant, taking on the main roles of Lucy and Lilli respectively, have both impressed with their dedication to the parts and their ability to follow direction. It has been a steep learning curve for them as well, both discovering things about their characters and the nature of the play within the first week’s reading, some complexities not immediately apparent on first reading.
A busy schedule has seen copious script-work; unpicking the subtext of the play, followed by workshopping the characters’ physicalities and finally getting the play on its feet and walking through the movement in the space.
What has become immediately apparent after the initial walk-through in the (fantastically friendly) People Show studios is the need to transform the school hall or drama studio into a different and intriguing space. A lot of thought and work has therefore gone into creating the space from the outset and on Ann Akin’s initital entrance (as Lucy).
It’s clear to see from this the usefulness of the Research and Development day back at Toynbee studios all those weeks ago – investigating how we can physically recreate Lilli’s network with the use of elastic – whilst simultaneously transforming the space. Experimentation with fixtures for elastic (from sticky wall-hooks to table legs) have led to the use of upright poles in the space, providing interesting levels and at the same time their own host of technical problems. My days have often been filled with running around with gaffa tape, experimenting with sandbags and stage weights – desperately trying to keep the things up. Thankfully however they have provided us with what we wanted – a different and interesting performance space.
Adding music (all original compositions from Verity) as we progress with the blocking is currently adding yet another layer to the performance and contributing to the overall atmosphere. Additional movement work (led by Mary) has also allowed the actors to play with the created space and to clearly define their characters – occasionally hopping from one to another in quick succession. Those able to attend the rehearsal preview today will hopefully be able to add some helpful feedback on these elements.
A relative newbie to this intensive process I’ve been impressed by the painstaking way that the performance is being built and feel proud to be part of a complex project that will undoubtedly challenge young audiences. The actors (at times apparently fueled only by Jaffa Cakes) have been working really hard on absorbing the complexities and allowing them to inform the performance. Despite this, the week appears to have vanished very quickly, and all departed on Saturday for a day’s well earned rest.
I am left ruminating on the difficulties of getting hold of ‘stage mice’ (whatever that means) in East London after traversing the streets, markets and knicknack stalls and pet shops to no avail. The irony of discovering that some very real mice have invaded my kitchen at home is not lost on me…
In the meantime – schools are continuing to book further performances of Bind and the YWCA have contacted me to express interest in touring to their London centres. Anyone interested in booking should contact me ASAP (limited spaces left) at [email protected] or 07834 152 535.
I’m looking forward to continue developing what is becoming a really engaging piece of theatre.
By Alex Kaye, Education Project Manager