By Simon Kent (performer)
We have come to the end of the second week of Bow Down rehearsals, and what a couple of weeks it has been! I can honestly say I have never experienced rehearsals like these before, and I already can’t wait until Monday to begin week three.
Usually when beginning rehearsals, there is an awkward first day of introductions where the cast desperately try to remember one another’s names and work out who is playing what. This is followed by the read-through and discussion of ideas, usually accompanied by lots of caffeine based drinks and biscuits.
Then finally around the end of week one/beginning of week two, you have the terrifying experience of actually standing up and putting all those wonderful ideas you had into practice. This often proves to be the time I lose the ability to walk and talk at the same time.
The two weeks I have just experienced have been nothing like this (although we did consume a large quantity of biscuits!) From day one, Frederic Wake-Walker (Director) has instilled a relaxed and open atmosphere in the rehearsal room, allowing us to explore the text and stories freely. We have been concentrating a lot on the ensemble, often not actually working on the text or particular scenes but concentrating on trying to become as close as we can as a collection of performers. No-one was assigned characters, and any rehearsing of actual scenes has come from movement-based improvisations or musical impulses.
As a performer it’s often difficult to explain to family and friends what you actually do on a “normal day” in rehearsals because there really is nothing “normal” about this process. For example, yesterday I was percussionist to two classical musicians playing the shovel and chain; I tied 6’5″ Thomas O’Connell (performer) up in rope as he bounded around the room like a loose elephant; and I improvised on a full size metal roundabout for an hour. And this was all before lunch! (Obviously all these tasks have deep artistic meaning, and you will have to come and see the show for it all to make sense!)
We have yet to have a “normal day” working on Bow Down. It has been truly extraordinary and I am loving every moment of it.
Our latest blog posts:
On the origins of Bow Down
Meet the cast of Bow Down
Mana Shibata: On meeting Sir Harrison Birtwistle…
Bow Down: behind the scenes video
Finding my rythm in Bow Down
Going beyond the music with Bow Down
Bow Down: a special kind of fairy tale
Beyond the story: the set and locations of Bow Down
Bow Down performance spaces
Bow Down in pictures