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To Be Frank: Reflecting on Rehearsals with Ryan

1st March 2024 by Lauren Randall

As part of our Frankenstein team this year we welcomed Ryan Charles Jacob as production assistant intern, joining us during the rehearsals and run at our co-producers Leeds Playhouse. It’s been a tremendous joy to have Ryan with us and we’ll certainly miss him and his hard work and enthusiasm as we head out on tour.

We asked Ryan at the start of rehearsals if he’d like to keep some sort of diary for us or write a piece reflecting on what it was like to be a part of the making and creating of an imitating the dog show. Honest and personal, here’s what he had to say.

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“Working on Frankenstein as their Production Assistant these past 6 weeks has been a truly unforgettable experience for me.

Getting to work with imitating the dog, and all of the wonderful people who make up their fantastic company has been like a dream.

I got to see the whole process, from the start of rehearsals to the end of the Leeds Playhouse run, and honestly it was such a shock to see how different their ways of working are compared to shows I have worked on in the past.

imitating the dog are known for their highly technical shows, but seeing it come together from the start showed me JUST how much work goes into it all. From seeing them develop projections of shadows moving, to them digitally putting Georgia’s head in a vat of water, it’s interesting to see them add the layers onto their already spectacular​ work, to make it even better (often in ways I’d have never been able to imagine).

After two weeks, we had Act 1, and we did a full run through. I was so excited that we’d finally got HALF WAY through the show, and to see the way that the characters were performed was simply tantalising. But then during a break the team agreed that what we had wasn’t quite working as we’d all thought it would, so we started again. Something which I was deeply concerned about time wise, because it’d already taken us 2 weeks, so how on earth could we do Act 1 & Act 2 in just TWO weeks til opening night?!

Well, we did it. Thanks to everybody’s hard work, and dedication to the process, and the actors for being so patient and willing to give things a go, we finally got the show to a place where everybody was happy. It is different to what the first draft was, but now I can see Andrew’s vision for it, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Tech days as an actor can be ROUGH. They’re long, they’re hot, you’re being told to go back, to move here, or stay there. They are absolutely exhausting. The endurance that these two amazing performers have gone through, being on stage, working technically from the second week – it is genuinely empowering to see their resilience and to witness them develop their characters in tandem to the technical team developing their surroundings with them.

One of the things I have really liked about working with imitating the dog, is that everyone’s opinion matters, and that if anyone has an idea it is actively encouraged to just be thrown out there into the room. Sure, sometimes it’s not the right idea for that moment but other times it is. It’s really lovely to see everybody having a say in the room, and being able to speak up if something isn’t quite working for them without fear of judgement. 

You can see how well this group of people work together, just by seeing the quality of the work that they produce; they seemingly all flow together in tandem, creating a beautiful collaborative piece that is both synchronised and interesting. Something which I will look forward to seeing in whatever they do next. 

It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you all!

Ryan Charles Jacob x”

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Pleasure’s all ours, Ryan. We can’t wait to see where your career next takes you!

Photo by Robling Photography. Ryan pictured 7th in from the left, front row.

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