In our second diary from the rehearsal room of dreamplay, actor Colin Hurley takes us on an actors journey into the rehearsal process.
“Just say yes…”
Was my response to being asked if Iwas really going to use a Sainsbury’s shopping bag as a bathtub.
I feel that comment sums up the feel of the room so far in rehearsals for dreamplay. It’s week two and the atmosphere is just as open and playful as the first. Sometimes in a rehearsal processes there comes a point where people want to start to nail things down, even have the answers given to them, but this is a play very much made up of questions rather than answers. What is itto love, to hurt? What is it to dream? And to try and discover these things, I think it’s about creating the right atmosphere in a rehearsal room, one that’s safe for people to “…Say yes.” To be able to try things out andnot be afraid to fail.
With dreamplay, we often have all the actors in the rehearsal space at all times, and sure, even though sometimes it may be good to shoot off into a green room, have a brew and learn some lines/check Facebook, there is a sense that you’re all building a play together, as an ensemble – watching each other work, adding ideas, picking scenes apart as a company and getting to know the play as a whole not just individual parts. We have an actor who has a clowning piece in the play and instead of being a personal endeavor all of us over the past few weeks have been playing and developing individual clowns.
One of the actors said to me the other day – “It’s like being back at drama school”. I wondered if that felt regressive, but then I’ve never been as brave in my career as I was back then. It is like being back at drama school: large voice and body warm ups, dancing, clowning, large improvisations – and the ability to watchfellow cast members work and be able to learn. It’s one of the things many great performers talk about, that we should never stop learning, but sometimes it’s easy to fall into a placewhere you feel the need to succeed, impress and ‘get it right’. A lovely director once told me, “Acting is a very simple thing, made complicated”.
It’s amazing what happens when you’re in a room full of people that are open enough to express how they felt during an exercise or scene. “I felt I was maybe not being as open as could” – “I was probably too polite…” the whole room becomes braver and when somebody makes a discovery, it’s doesn’t panic the rest of the room into believing that they’re behind in their work – but acts as a bar being set, a challenge, something that galvanizes everyone to create.
When I took this project on, somebody said it was maybe too experimental for them – but I think all theatre should be an experiment, a place to explore. And it is a joy to share with the audience. Why do these characters do what they do? What is it like to be human? A question I think we can all have a little say in… and one I’m very much looking forward to trying to answer with audiences at the Vaults.
dreamplay runs at The Vaults, London 10 September to 1 October 2016
For more information visit www.thevaults.london