Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Hobson's Rehearsal's

I'm rehearsing again.  I feel like such a glutton for punishment - I finish a show, swear I am taking a break and sitting the next one out just so I can catch by breath for a couple of months, then I get the cast list and go oooh, that character would be great fun to play and before I know it I'm back at an audition, acting the fool, side eying the Director and hoping that somehow this mummery means I get a part.

That's how I've ended up playing a sulky, snotty, whiny, selfish brat with a large wagging behind (don't laugh, it's a bustle, for the most part) and a superiority complex.  She is remarkably similar to some of the girls from Made in Chelsea.  You can call her Alice. 
Most of the time when Steve and I are in plays we never manage to be in the same play.  We have never even had an in-character conversation on stage before.  This time it's a little different.  Whilst not strictly speaking acting opposite each other, I do get to play his sister-in-law which is fun, and we get to have a bit of a barney on stage!  At least we get to see each other in the evenings for a change, a rare occurrence when one of us is rehearsing.
Steve is playing Will Mossop, a character the absolute antithesis of his own personality.  Will is a boot maker in a shop in Salford, near Manchester in the 1880's.  The master of the shop is Henry Hobson, an alcoholic who spends most of his time in the Moonraker's Parlour with his friends, leaving the running of the shop to his three daughters, Maggie, Alice and Vickey.
Maggie (played by Stella) is a no-nonsense, practical woman who takes her fate into her own hands, orchestrating the activities of the men and women around her with the expertise of a virtuoso conductor.  Vickey is played by none other that The Demon Gin who brings a razor sharp edge to Vickey's wit.
Hobson's Choice means a free choice in which there is only one option, i.e. no choice at all and Maggie manages to give a Hobson's Choice to everyone who may stand in her way.  Everyone argues with her, but all end up bending to her intractable will.  All end up happy, or at the very least cared for (eventually) but they may not have approved of Maggie's methods of getting them there!
Right now we are in the middle of our rehearsal period.  Books are down, people are OK on their lines (you have a rough idea when it's your turn to speak) and movement, characterisation and expressions are being played with and refined.  One of the most common phrases you hear at this stage was 'I know I tried it that way but what if...'.  Costumes are nearly complete, props are being acquired and the marketing and publicity is starting to trickle out.
I'm not sure if the Director, Sally, would agree with me, but this production has so far felt rather smooth going.  Maybe it's because the last couple of productions I was directly involved with (Teechers and Wyrd Sisters) have involved a lot of complex choreography whereas Hobson's Choice is significantly more naturalistic, but this play has come together so easily.   Sally always seems to have a big grin on her face when she is watching us rehearse at least!
The hardest part for me has been getting the Salford accent right.  I'm not good with accents and the fact that we were expected to have a northern drawl nearly prevented me from auditioning.  It has been hard work but being married to a northerner (he will insist he's from the Midlands, I say it is north of the Watford Gap therefore it's northern) is helping with some of the trickier phrases. I slip occasionally but it's not as bad as my first couple of rehearsals when I took a bit of a detour over the entire of the UK, normally within a single sentence consisting of less than 10 words.  I still struggle with 'Yes' though - it should be written as 'Aye'!
We are on in just over 3 weeks and right now I think we are almost there!   We are returning to the Playhouse in Whitstable for this production and I am really looking forward to Get In.  I have booked annual leave and am fully prepared for a couple of days happily sat on the floor of the stage helping to get the stage together.  I say this now - if I remember rightly I was cursing at the set from Teechers by the end of the build.
If you are local, I really hope you come along and support this production.  It is a gentle comedy that is full of subtle, clever character interactions and humour that is still tickling the ribs of our delightful prompt even though she's watched it half a dozen times! 

I can't think of a better way to shut out the stresses of day to day life for a few hours.

We are on from the 6th-8th March 2014, Playhouse Theatre Whitstable.

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