Another rehearsal room dispatch from writer/director Kit Brookman.
Rehearsing a new play sometimes feels like riding a bike while simultaneously being taught how to juggle. It’s messy and chaotic, things (and sometimes people) hit the ground, and as soon as you get a handle on the juggling you forget how to ride the bike. It’s part of creating something that hasn’t been done before, uncovering the logic that the play wants to live by while simultaneously building a performance and a world that can support it. If I can stretch the metaphor, rehearsing a new play for one actor can feel like riding a bike while learning how to juggle with a blindfold on. There’s not a multitude of voices to guide you along the way, you just have to keep moving through the dark, trusting that you’re hitting the right marks along the way.
The Stones is (partly) a play about guilt, about the heavy things from the past that drag on both the present and the future. The character, Nick, experiences a moment of insight that’s followed by a disorienting step into a world he begins to recognise less and less. It’s a sort of contemporary gothic horror story.
Our rehearsal process has at times doubled as a play development process, which has allowed us to shape the performance and the text together, and work out in a moment-to-moment way which can carry the meaning of the piece at any given time. It’s been a very direct and collaborative process which hopefully will mean that an audience will struggle to see the seams between the different elements of the production.
Whenever I’ve written a play, at a certain point in rehearsals the words sort of lose all meaning to me. As a writer you’ve dreamed about the play, thought it through, written it, turned it over in your own head a thousand times and then had other people turn it over with their voices. Familiarity demolishes perspective. It’s always the worst point of rehearsals and always a relief to leave it behind -- to emerge from the tunnel, still on your bike, still catching the juggling balls as they come down, and making your way a bit more easily now along the path.
We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting close, and I’m excited to reach the point in a week and a half’s time when we can share the play with audiences, and let more people into Nick’s funny, fracturing, world.
performer Luke Mullins responds to a note from the director
The Stones plays at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, as part of the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe.
12:30pm, 8-29 August.
photo by Matthew Kaltenborn