Our initial day with Jill Halfpenny was fantastic...fantastically hard work, and fantastically rewarding. We started off with a discussion about performance and with particular reference to the play and the author, and Jill really knows her stuff, putting us through our paces and making us all (or certainly myself at least) realise the massive gulf between the professional and the amateur.
However, this is a competition to find the best amateur company, after all, so that's ok! After a couple of not-very-good gos we upped the pace and energy and ended up feeling like we had really got something worthwhile from it, and that we had undergone a proper "journey" (shudder).
That Sunday, two days later, we then had our first "unsupervised" rehearsal without cameras (they had also been there for the first one after casting), and worked on the detail of the piece. After that, we all felt a little drained, having had two very intense rehearsals almost back to back (and, for me, no sleep after the Friday session, with so much whirling round my head!). But it was worth it as our next rehearsal, with Rob's fresh set and staging ideas, picked up the pace once again. Since then, we have been working on details and energy and pacing.
I will be playing Lopakhin, and in the section we're doing, I have the most lines, so it is a combination of that, and my clearly falling more than a bit short of the director's expectations, that most of the notes have been directed at me. Pressure? As I said to the camera crew, I'd rather have the lines than have to sit on stage and react, which is the hardest thing to do: at least with lines you have something more than your face and posture to act with...although, that said, those are the very things I need to work on!
I just hope I can do a good job for everyone. For the rest of the cast who are all extremely talented and so good at their roles; for the director, Rob; for the rest of the company who haven't had a role in this round, so that we get to the second round and they can maybe be in with a shout (dependent on the play we would get given, of course); and for the good people of Dorset (and, indeed, the entire South West, as we are the only company West of Essex and South of the Wirral involved), who we are representing in the contest.
So, anyway, we have now had our last rehearsal before the tech run at Northampton, and it's fingers crossed for the weekend!
If only I didn't have such a massive toothache right now!