New rehearsal technique for The Table...


So we got to the Pulzart Festival on Thursday night at about 7pm local time after a full day travelling - the taxi left the office at 7.10am. The Theatre is lovely. 120 seats black box with a large flat floor stage. Almost the perfect space for The Table. We're here to do two shows and a workshop on Sunday.

Whenever we do The Table there is always a slightly fraught and sometimes emotional pre-show rehearsal earlier in the day. With three man puppet it is always nearly impossible to know what is your fault and what is someone else's and it can get pretty emotional. Form the outside it is pretty clear that something is wrong but it is difficult to say who's fault it is. Are the feet dragging or is the bum pushing? And it is very difficult to know how to prepare for show that relies so heavily on the appearance of improvisation at least.

We usually rehearse for a couple of hours. Run through some things that make us feel confident, then a few things we are worried about, then the first ten minutes of the show. Something like that. Yesterday we found a new rehearsal technique that seems obvious now, but well, we didn't think of it before. All three people on the puppet say the lines together and do the breaths in chorus, as we run though a section of the show. This creates real clarity on the division of labour into different roles, because we are all playing the same character but we are doing different bits of the puppet. Doing the lines aloud yourself helps you feel what the puppet is feeling and that really informs the nature and timing of the movements and choices. It enables everyone to perform instinctively rather than cognitively.

In real life of course the voice and even the thoughts come from the body, from the experience of the character. But because a script usually only records the words, as puppeteers and as actors we have to reverse engineer the script to discover the movements, the experiences, the thoughts that led to those lines being said.

Breath isn't just breath. Thought isn't just thought. Thoughts have colour, breath had shape. And we bend and change those thoughts and breaths to our needs and with our feelings. Another technique we use if to say the thoughts aloud as we do the movement. Literally to say what is behind the movement. It is clarifying, both to the director and the performer. If the move isn't working, probably the thought behind it isn't right. When the thought is right the move often looks after itself.

And then we had a lot of local beer and listened to Romanian Jazz Oddyssey in the square


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