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Monday, 7 November 2011


We're into the last two weeks of rehearsals now - that is prior to the last tryouts.  That means everyday a full run of both The Natural History of Trolls and GhoStoryteller, plus other activity, like publicity work and eating.  Today, after the two runs, I explored one short speech, which I'm a little worried about.  It's mostly fine but there is a noise I have to make during it which is troublesome.  It's a complicated noise to make, technically, and I got really good at it for the Summer.  Unfortunately, at the New Wimbledon Studio, after the first night the sound would not come.  The cast all said to me on the second night: "what happened?"  I fear that it's a sound that only works when my voice isn't grounded.  After a few weeks rehearsal and performance the voice tends to drop a tad, to be properly warmed up for the duration - this is why over time old actors and vicars sound very fruity.  This year I have been performing far less than usual and so was able to find this sound - now that I'm back up to speed, it might not come out to play.  But I am working on it - I won't give up - because it sounds positively weird if I get it right.
Troll with Georgina Blackledge
This last week was spent with my lovely cast for Trolls, who've been fabulous in comparison with my own confused burblings.  During the rehearsals I took a few pictures - just compare the glamour between the others and myself.  I look a wreak because I spend most of the rehearsal time scratching my head, pulling my thinning hair and pulling at my face, in between taking my glasses on and off.  I also find that I don't sleep the night before a rehearsal, a kind of Christmas time excitement, and fear that I'll oversleep and turn up late to rehearsal.
I actually enjoy rehearsing with other people, but I can be a little indecisive at the first few rehearsals.  I'll make a whole list of ideas and then slowly dismiss them as we go along, till I have some idea where we're going.  And then I'll talk a lot about stuff that is almost to do with the piece, but not quite.  Like unfortunate subtexts.
Sophie Morris-Sheppard with Troll
Actors love subtext.  They love it so much that sometimes they forget the sub part of it.  They love to identify the subtext and then play it, over and above the text.  Directors sometimes do this as well - Jonathan Miller springs immediately to mind.  The thing about storytelling is that, though the piece will have a subtext (and boy have I found one or two interesting ones in Trolls) the performer usually doesn't - because they aren't a character, they aren't feeding off the traditional inner life.  Some actors can't cope with this very well and insist on hunting shadows that are not there - luckily my lovely cast do not do such things.
I, however, keep stopping rehearsals to point out a resonance in a line I hadn't noticed before.  It doesn't help because it's a resonance I want suppressed, but it does make me chuckle and I can't resist pointing out something amusing.  Along with any mistake in the text that I've only just noticed.
So, roughly speaking, I'm a rambling, shambling mess at present - but I don't think I'd do it any other way.  The work seems to be good, even if I'm not looking or sounding my best.  I get to spend many hours with lovely, professional people and so too, hopefully, will you - when you come and see the show, again and again and again...
In two weeks time the last tryouts will be over, it'll be eyes down for London.  We'll know once and for all what needs to change, what needs to remain the same.  Then the fun really begins.

Troll at Work

Milk Bottle Productions Presents...
The Natural History of Trolls
Written and Performed by Robert Crighton, plus Special Guests


Sunday 20th November at 7.30pm
Tickets £7 / £6 Friends of the Quay
The Quay Theatre, Quay Lane, Sudbury
Box Office: 01787 374 745

Tuesday 29th November to Friday 23rd December 2011

Tickets £12 / £10 concessions
Tuesday to Saturday starts at 7.30pm – doors open 7.15pm.  Sunday at 7pm, doors open 6.45pm.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747
Barons Court Theatre, “The Curtain’s Up”, 28A Comeragh Road W14
Nearest Tube:  Barons Court (Piccadilly/District Lines)

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