Everything is Possible (with a Formidable Tech Team)
June 18, 2017
Well here I am. It's 9pm and I'm slogged across no less than four seats in the Theatre Royal dress circle. It feels necessary for you to get the full picture to add that I am also fully clad in 1913 dress, with my gorgeous coat and hat draped on the back of my chair (or chairs), to complete the look. Yes, technical rehearsals for the York Theatre Royal's and Pilot Theatre's community project 'Everything is Possible: The York Suffragettes', written by Bridget Foreman, are finally underway.
It's exciting. Really, fantastically exciting.
But I'm shattered, hence the slogging.
A mixture of starting my new full time job on Monday working in a school, a fairly full on position both mentally and physically, and rehearsals kicking up for the project, I am extremely tired.
We're very lucky however, to have a full week of tech rehearsals and despite my lethargy, that's brilliant. Tech is in fact a necessary evil and though it's true they can be seriously long and tedious for everyone involved, a good tech is what makes or breaks a show. Especially for something on this enormous scale. With more than 150 in the cast, led by the fantastic Barbara Marten as the central character 'Annie', and another army of hard working professionals literally behind the scenes, the project is a mammoth task. I'm talking about; lighting and sound designers, costume and set designers, dressers, producers, administrators, the front of house and stage management teams, historical advisors. Special mentions though of course to; Musical Director Madeline Hodson and the spectacular choir, Composer Ivan Stott for the beautiful original music that truly heightens the piece, Movement Director Jon Beney and his assistant Helen and their incredible work on the powerful scenes, a task extremely difficult with such a large cast, a team perfected by the formidable directing talents of Juliet Forster and Katie Posner and their assistant Fiona Baistow. Finally, it would be a crime not to mention the hard work of our own little ray of sunshine Amber Rennison as the Community Project Co-ordinator, she truly is a dream and I can vouch for us all in the cast, and probably crew too, the whole experience just wouldn't be the same without being greeted by her friendliness and energy every single day.
The whole team is truly a force to be reckoned with and having watched the most part of the show and seen it progress from rehearsal room to stage, now on set and in full lighting and costume, I can say with full confidence what a truly remarkable production this will be when it opens on Tuesday 20th June this week.
But none of this has happened overnight. It is something I think is often overlooked with theatre. For an audience, it is easy to forget the hours, days, weeks and often even months or years that goes into a performance outside of a rehearsal room as the focus is often solely on the acting. Every team on this project has been working tirelessly underground on this project for months to make all the costumes and set and everything to make it what it is on the Theatre Royal stage this week. And for an actor is easy to take things for granted, that everything will be just right for them so they can solely focus on their own performance. In fact in many cases, performers only remember the existence of the technical team when something goes wrong or isn't where it should be. I believe it is of extreme importance in theatre to make sure that the hard work of anyone off stage is never overlooked, anyone of this description probably has a million and one things to take care of, a mutual respect for this is all that is necessary to sustain a friendly environment.
This production however, is all about mutual respect. The sole focus of the play and the suffragette movement as a whole being on the mutual respect of the genders and it's such a phenomenal experience as a young actress to be around so many inspiring, talented women. It is also something very special to be telling the story of our local heroines of the past who fought so hard for our right to vote, as their story has not yet been told. This play was devised from documents found uncovering this crucial part of what lead actress Barbara Marten described as 'forgotten history'.
I am constantly in awe of the imagination and creative flare of both Juliet and Katie in rehearsals and it's fantastic to see their work now come to life as opening draws closer, not to mention they are both two of the loveliest, most professional directors I have ever come across in my experience of theatre. Barbara is an absolute asset to the cast for so much more than her theatrical abilities, without giving anything away,her portrayal of Annie will leave audiences with the same high respect for her as I do for herself as a person.
I genuinely feel honoured to be part of such an amazing group of people. It's called a community project for a reason and I can honestly say I have never felt such a strong sense of community amongst cast and crew in any experience before. It's a very special production for so many reasons but that is what stands out as number one for me. The comradery is second to none and I can't wait for the audiences to see all this hard work being pulled off and opening is just a few short days away.
So yes, it is exciting. And my message here is two-fold;
DO NOT underestimate, or take for granted in any way, the hard working teams behind the stage in any production. They are often what makes a show what it is and without them, we'd be lost.
DO buy your tickets for Everything is Possible: The York Suffragettes. I promise, it's fantastic and you will not be disappointed.
p.s. Blog post on the production weeks of this show and it's inspiring message to follow x