The Elephant Man | Rehearsal Diary Week 5

25 Jun 2018

Assistant Director Katharine Farmer gives us one final update from The Elephant Man rehearsal room ahead of the company's first preview tomorrow night. 

Before rehearsal started I popped into the theatre to see the progress Construction had made with the get-in. The team were working tirelessly to put the set together and stage management were busy backstage organising props in anticipation of the actors’ arrival. By 10am most of the set was already in place, including the large crate and floorboards that had been beautifully painted by the BOVTS Scenic Art students.

Whilst everyone was busy setting things up in the theatre, the cast met upstairs in the rehearsal room for a few days of intensive work. Sam Mallinson, the Company Manager at Bristol Old Vic, came and introduced herself to us and gave us a tour of the building.

Sam brought the cast onstage and everyone took a moment to look out at the impressive auditorium. With the house lights up, we saw every seat in the house and I think everyone was slightly awe-struck at the beautiful view.  

The model box hadn’t prepared me for just how deep the stage is and how high the fly tower looms above us. Like my fellow company members, standing on the stage made me buzzed for the week ahead and how our production would bring the theatre to life.

BOV is a vibrant place to work with so many exciting goings-on. It was great to be introduced to many of the members of staff at the Meet-and-Greet, which gave us a sense of the vast operation that is producing plays at Bristol Old Vic. 

Being at the theatre has renewed the cast’s energy as we edge closer to production. Over the past 5 weeks the cast have become close and are working well as an ensemble. For many of the students of BOVTS this is their professional debut and what an incredible place for it to happen!

On Wednesday we had a breakthrough run of the play. This was the first time we really saw the play come together and everyone’s hard work paid off in spades. The performances were honest and emotionally connected and all the scenic elements were integrated smoothly into the action. 

A small mishap on Thursday slightly delayed the plotting sessions for our design team. The rolls of fabric that drop down in a theatrical moment to create the backdrop accidentally caught onto the lighting rig as they unfurled, which meant that on Friday morning Ziggy and the LX department had to refocus the lights. That being said, everyone worked quickly to address the issue and, as scheduled, that evening the actors were sent to their dressing rooms to get into costume for our first tech session. 

On Friday whilst the plotting session took place in the theatre, I had the opportunity to hold rehearsal to maximise our use of time. One thing I found particularly useful during this rehearsal was doing a run of Act 2 without any set or props. As we’d run Act 2 less frequently, it was great to have the opportunity to run it without having to worry about moving set pieces. As a result, we were just able to focus on the scenes and characters. This was a helpful exercise ahead of starting tech that evening, as the cast wont be able to run the play straight through until the dress rehearsal on Monday night.

The company of The Elephant Man spent Saturday in the theatre working through cues. Despite the glorious sunshine, everyone was productive as we worked through each scene in order to make sure that lighting, sound and scene changes all work in unison. 

I’m sure that everyone is looking forward to having a relaxing Sun off after 6 days of hard work. Next week I'll be reflecting on finishing tech and opening the show as we start previews on Tue 26 Jun.

The Elephant Man comes to Bristol Old Vic from 26 Jun – 7 Jul. Book your tickets here