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R&D at Cast in July

13th September 2014 by Morven Macbeth

R&D Week at Cast, Doncaster, July 2014

In the past it’s always taken the company quite a long time to make a new show. I think the nature of the work makes this so, there are other factors of course, but with A Farewell to Arms we’ve tried to condense the process as best we can. Weeks if not months before we begin finally staging, rehearsing and opening an imitating the dog show we absolutely need time on set, or at least some of the set, to experiment with and to test projection ideas, for Laura Hopkins the designer to see how the whole piece is coming together, to see costumes in the space, for the company to start playing with recording, with the cameras, to find out how/where/why/if this works and how this will effect the lighting design, for the actors to begin to get a sense of the playing space, in the case of A Farewell to Arms by far the most open staging we’ve worked with for many years, I could go on – there’s a lot on this list! And for this process we were lucky enough to have a week at Cast, who are supporting A Farewell to Arms along with Live @ LICA, to do exactly this and in the main space to boot where we will be performing the show later this autumn as part of the UK tour.

Day 1 was an odd one. To begin with, outside it was about 28 degrees of full on sunshine which was looking like staying around all week (it duly did so). By the end of the day we were all unsure where we were heading. What we’d come into the space thinking would be the backbone of the show was turning out not to be. So, like with all good rehearsal processes of yore, we went back to the house, made a massive meal and sat around til 1am talking. A lot. And getting bitten by mosquitoes. Some more than others (poor Laura A).

Day 2 began well, just getting up and chucking stuff around, literally, with the staging, with the video, with the actors, bit of a free-for-all and we were away. I for one had completely forgotten we should always be expecting the unexpected! The composer we’re working with again after The Zero Hour, Jeremy Peyton-Jones, had already put together some incredible sections of music and we were really getting a feeling for what A Farewell to Arms could be, how the novel could come alive on a stage, how the way we read a novel could be translated somehow into how an audience would read the adaptation we were in the process of making.

The rest of the week was by turns hard, delicious (director Pete Brooks remains a chef to be reckoned with, not to mention the very good food served at Cast lunchtimes!), hot, productive, frustrating, enlightening, culminating in a sharing of the week’s work mid afternoon on the Friday. Lots more people came than we were expecting to see in the auditorium which made us all very happy indeed and the general gist of conversation out in the bar afterwards was ‘can’t wait to see more’. And we can’t wait to make more.

Final rehearsals begin proper in just over a week’s time. Everyone has of course been badgering away in the interim, on this and other projects (Sea Breeze, our collaboration with Raisin & Willow, is back at the Winter Gardens in Morecambe Tues 23rd til Sat 27th Sept) but it’s all hands on that there deck come 9am a week Monday morning at the Dukes, Lancaster. Please check the tour dates on the site and we hope very much to see you later in the autumn.

 

Morven Macbeth

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