Sunday, 13 October 2013

the events - choir rehearsal and open dress rehearsal

James and Polina from ATC came along to the Morris rehearsal on Tuesday 23 July to introduce us to the music for The Events, and they did it really well. Polina (Kalinina) is an Associate Director with the Actors Touring Company, whose production it is, and James (Slimings) was part of the team coaching the choirs on the music; Polina talked us through the production and James taught us the songs. They (or colleagues) were doing this with every choir. We rattled through it in around our usual two hours of rehearsal, though they said they usually intend to give it three hours. They had sent through the music to Michelle just a couple of days before, I think, and she sent it round. There was some apprehension between then and the rehearsal, but there was also mutual encouragement, and a lot of encouragement and positive feedback on the Tuesday.

(In The Events, by David Greig, there are only two actors (someone playing Claire and someone playing all the other parts), plus a community choir who sing and take a limited part in the action, and are onstage throughout. The idea is that wherever it is performed a local community choir would take part, rather than using a choir of actors. The intention may have been to have a different choir for every performance, but some choirs are doing two, including ours. The actors in this production are Neve McIntosh and Rudi Dharmalingam; I've seen Neve before, though under a lot of make-up, in Doctor Who, while I don't think I've seen Rudi before (he was in the original production of The History Boys).)

So the next day, Wednesday 24 July, we went along to the Young Vic after work to do it with them in the open dress rehearsal. They had chosen Morris for the dress rehearsal because Morris had been one of a number of choirs involved in an Events-related workshop during a choirs weekend on the South Bank earlier in the year, and they'd obviously liked Morris's attitude/approach in some way. (They had had a small choir of actors during the rehearsal period, to help them rehearse.) As I think would be the pattern for all the performances, they had another run-through of the music, plus the staging, with the choir, then a short break, and then the actual performance. The run-through was run by Polina, but also involved the director and the composer; there was a different pianist, Magnus rather than James. The open dress rehearsal meant that there was an audience, but it was of people associated with the production or the theatre in some way (I spoke to people afterwards who were trustees/board members or who had been in the rehearsal choir, for example).

I thought the play was very good (full of questions and issues without trying to give definitive answers and solutions), the actors were very good, as was the pianist, and I thought we acquitted ourselves well. It was well received by the audience. The actors and others involved in the production expressed their appreciation, and we were able to do likewise; it was good to be able to talk a little to both Neve and Rudi afterwards. It was interesting that most of what I talked about was the experience of doing it, still buzzing about it, but in the days afterwards what I thought about was the ideas in the play. I said in an email to the choir afterwards that it was one of the best things I'd ever done. I also sent an email to the ATC saying something about my experience of it.

(In fact, I did wonder to myself if the actual performance of it wouldn't go as well as the rehearsal, partly because we would be more familiar with it and so in danger of being less engaged, but more so because we would be expected to be better having had more time to practice. We shall see.)