Touching the Void | Rehearsal Diary - Week 2

17 Aug 2018

With another jam-packed week of Touching the Void rehearsals behind us, Assistant Director Evan Lordan reveals all the exciting goings on ahead of the run 8 Sep - 6 Oct.

Following The Cherry Orchard, this is the second time within a year that I've taken on the role of Assistant Director in a Bristol Old Vic co-production (I'm a very happy bunny). If you are a frequent follower of these rehearsal blogs, you may remember that, due to the snow during The Cherry Orchard's run, one of our actors couldn’t make it to the theatre for a preview show. In her stead, I went on-stage as the ghost of a 7-year-old boy. I am a 36-year-old bearded Irishman. I do not look like a 7-year-old boy, deceased or otherwise. It was a preview and important for the actors and creative team to have this performance happen; the show must go on and so did I. It was quite a privilege to be on that stage with such wonderful actors, and on Anton Chekhov’s final (finest) play. Quite the adventure and something to tell the Grandkids… But disaster struck once again and the supremely talented Eva Magyar, who played Charlotta Ivanovna came down with pneumonia. I repeat, I am a 36-year-old bearded Irishman. I do not look like a Russian Governess from 1903. I have learned that apparently this does not matter one little bit. I appeared six times (!) as the lonely and eccentric Charlotta.

Emma Cains was working on costume that fateful day. The look on her face as she sized me up and tried to figure out what the bloody hell she was supposed to do with me has been emblazoned into my memory. I remember her excitement as she applied make-up to my reluctant and still bearded face. “Yes mate!” she exclaimed when she was finished and observing her handiwork.

I’m sharing this long tangent because Emma is working costume on Touching the Void, and so we’ve been reunited. She was here earlier in the week to take measurements of the actors, but instead she was approaching me, armed with a tape measure and a great big sinister smile. “Should I measure you first,” she asked. “If one of these actors get so much as a sniffle, I’m heading for the hills” is all I could think to say in order to stop her in her tracks. She laughed at me, rather than with.

We have been waiting this week for important parts of the set to arrive so that we can develop the physical language of the piece. Unfortunately the aforementioned set isn’t quite ready for us and requires one or two little alterations before can begin to incorporate it into the work.

Luckily we have movement director, Sasha Milavic Davies in the room this week. Sasha is an award-winning director and choreographer who trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq. The physical language of the piece and the physical characteristics of each company member has been progressing unabated and excitingly under her guidance. Sasha can’t take all the credit though; the performers have properly thrown themselves into the movement work. To get into peak physical condition they have been coming in before rehearsals start to do HIIT Workouts (High Intensity Interval Training), also known as deriving pleasure from inflicting terrible pain on oneself. I decided to show the them that this HIIT business probably wasn’t all that difficult and that if I could do it, then so could they. My lesson ended up being more along the lines of: I can’t do it and so you are going to have to do it in my place. I did get through a session of it without shaming myself too badly, but it’s been 3 days now since I’ve managed to sit down without enduring a burning sensation in every part of my body. I also haven’t been able to lift my arms since then. I am typing this blog with a pencil clamped between my teeth. If I have passed you in the street and not waved at you, it is nothing personal, I am simply not able.

Being an Assistant Director at Bristol Old Vic just seems to be a series of new and exciting ways for me to embarrass myself.

Evan Lordan is a Leverhulme Arts Scholar and recipient of a JMK regional bursary funded by the Leverhulme Trust Arts Scholarships Fund.

This September, our radical Year of Change continues with the world-premiere stage adaptation of Touching The Void. For more information and to book tickets, click here.