Rehearsal Diary Two

Cast of Measure for MeasureThe Read Through

The read through is the actors’ first opportunity to get together as a company. As they read Measure for Measure aloud over the course of a warm Sunday afternoon, some initial acting choices are clear. Moments
of comedy are already successfully cutting through the rather bleak themes. Everyone is raring to get started and a good deal of preparation has already been done.

This is director Paul's first chance to hear the play spoken by the actors
he cast. He is clearly thrilled. This is a confident cast, at home with Shakespeare's language and already adept at delivering their lines so every word is understood.

Ladies and gentlemen, in your own time, Measure for Measure act one!

And we're there: a hot, steamy, seething mass of a city. The Duke is about to leave, handing all his power to his deputy, Angelo. The consequences of the Duke's decision form the plot of the play. 

If you've ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place, ever felt torn between helping someone you love and your own values, you will immediately understand Measure for Measure.

For a play written in the early 1600s, Measure for Measure really is extraordinarily modern. Prostitutes and pimps struggle to earn a living. Brothers and sisters test each others' loyalty. Politicians are dragged through the dirt, some deservedly, some not. Others simply stay drunk all day to avoid reality. Sex, lust, and sin are everywhere. 

Cast of Measure for Measure"That was a lovely reading. Absolutely super." says Paul.

A tea break follows. The actors stretch their legs and chat about what lies ahead.

Paul then outlines a little of his vision for rehearsals. "During this first
three week period, I'd like you to be bold. Try different things. If you think, well, yesterday I did this character sadly, or I did this character solemnly, then next time try for fast, or heavily ironic, or deliberately comic, or play it straight and see if the comedy comes through."

Don't be shy about pushing things to extremes

"It's much easier to pull things back if we need to" says Paul. He doesn't want his actors to worry about giving a performance in rehearsals. This is a process, and performances will come.

Cast of Measure for MeasureYou're all so good already

After the initial three week period they will start firming up the moves, and blocking. This is the process by which the director and actors decide
where on the stage the actors will stand at any one time, taking account of sight lines for the audience, the set, and the lighting design.

And with that, the read through is finished. Rehearsals will start very soon. Each scene will be considered in detail; character motivations, plot, and meaning will be discussed at length. The play will not be performed again in its entirety by this group for several weeks.

The actors, on the promise of a free drink, head downstairs to the Grapevine Bar, all smiles and excitement. This will be a happy team.

Book now for the best seats 4 - 12 November: Measure for Measure.

Next: realising the set...
Previous: production meeting...

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