ACTOR’S DIARY: SAM O’SULLIVAN, THE NORMAN CONQUESTS
Back at Ensemble after the long weekend and we’ve got just under two weeks left in the rehearsal room(s) before moving into the theatre to begin tech. (But who’s counting).
We can now run all three plays independently, which was a very satisfying milestone to reach. Looking forward, initially Mark’s rehearsal plan was to spend our days running one show in the morning, getting notes and then running a different show in the afternoon. On Friday, however, we ran TABLE MANNERS in the morning and planned to run LIVING TOGETHER after doing some fix ups but things took longer than expected. There’s a level of “brain fry” that we’re all experiencing after lunch that manifests in a collective, uncontrollable hysteria. Actors call this “corpsing” and it’s highly contagious. One look from a fellow cast member where you perceive a twinkle in their eye – real or imagined – and pretty soon a sort of feedback loop can be created between you that culminates in raucous laughter. Throw in some quick dialogue and some mild exhaustion and life can get pretty difficult, pretty fast. There doesn’t even have to be anything particularly funny going on – it’s more a release of tension than anything else – but it’s a phenomenon that every actor experiences.
Given that we still have a certain amount of time to run all three plays, Mark has now shifted the focus onto only one play per day – running once in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Everyone feels that this is going to help us action notes and changes that we want to make in a more efficient way. We came to realise that running two different plays on the same day and moving on too quickly would, at this stage, actually solidify our wrong choices more than our right ones.
The configuration of the Ensemble stage is one where we have audience on three sides, which is going to work beautifully with Hugh O’Conner’s natural design. His attention to detail makes it easy to take your focus off yourself when you’re rehearsing and access the world of the play, which can help shake the giggles. (In theory.) Plus, when you’re almost surrounded by audience, it means you’re always facing the right way.
I can’t tell you the level of brain fry the cast would be reaching if we didn’t have our stage manager Dani Ironside and ASM Erin to support us. There is so much to keep track of. Props (and even the odd bit of furniture) move from room to room and, therefore, from play to play. It’s a huge task but as a company it feels like we’ve got a good rhythm going. Both the rehearsal rooms are buzzing with activity. At any given time some of us might be working a scene with Mark, while the others run lines with Liz Arday, our Assistant Director. Meanwhile someone else might have costume fitting with Hugh and Alana before we all come together to bash out another run. Its an exciting point to reach in rehearsal because everyone can feel our move into the theatre and the first audiences approaching.
You could say things are getting serious, only we can’t stop laughing…
– Sam O’Sullivan