How much (permissible) rehearsal is too much?

Oh boy, it’s getting serious now. Tickets are selling fast for December 13th. Interest is picking up as the marketing machine cranks up a gear (follow our tweets on @collectivesalon any time you like). We had an on-line guest blog this week at everything theatre, and two interviews with me coming out on and in the Islington Journal. PLUS, Viv Groskop went on Free Seed on Soho Radio last week, and she’s (fingers all crossed) going on London Live too! All very exciting! Among the company, work is getting very serious, costumes are being made, and I’m grappling with an unaccustomed dilemma…



Not so much text-talk this week. The past week’s been about sorting out some bits of the show that we can actually practice. At least, practice a bit. Which is an unusual luxury, which is great and simultaneously disconcerting, as I’m really not used to it. It feels like cheating; but it’s not. Musical items were pre-rehearsed back in Will’s day; clowning items and dances were rehearsed; fights (probably) right before the performance, and most likely choreographing from preset moves and sequences. So we’re not cheating. Yet there is a conflict: I’m suddenly uncertain who I can tell about what. For example, do I use a shot of our new puppet with its puppeteer for this blog, or is that giving away too much? Can I say who’s working with the puppet? Or singing the song? Suddenly, doubt is all around…


I met the final member of our cast this week: Crabbe The Dog. Crabbe has been made for us by our indomitable designer Sammie Lovatt, and she brought him to the Cockpit during the week to meet me and his new Puppeteer. (That’s one of those things I feel giving away publicly is too much info, so the identity of the Puppeteer remains secret. For now.) I guess in Will’s day there would have been no problem using a real dog on stage, and strongly suspect the character of Crabbe (a unco-operative, un-demonstrative dog, according to his owner) was written with a specific dog in mind.  Developing this character, and finding opportunities to bring him on stage more now that we have him, has been fun, and is still something I feel sure would have happened in Will’s day; if you have a good thing, you make the most of it, surely.

Crabbe will get to meet and play around with his owner just once before the play, as these two are a kind of clowning double act. Again, very exciting, and good common sense, but it feels wrong!


One of the reasons behind choosing Two Gentlemen was its lack of technical complications. No major fights, or set pieces that have to be wrestled into the already-challenging process of role-sharing and working from cues. However, there is an inescapable musical number, which has to be performed live as part of a scene. (Cast: don’t panic! If you don’t know about this, then you’re not doing it!) One of the first things I did in preparing the production was get the amazing Emma Hunt to do us a new setting of the song, keeping it as simple and lyrical as possible (it’s a love serenade, of course). And make sure we had a singer up for the job. Can’t tell you who, obvs. We also have three noble volunteers from the cast to hum and strum along for the number, performing not just some music, but the characters of ‘The Musickians’. Anyway, the Musical Ones have been rehearsing together with Emma, and I’m hoping this week to get them all together, as we do actually need to set a few things about the characters and the music sequence in the scene. I think they must have done this in the day, as (again) it makes good sense not to leave it to Sunday morning right before the show. Although we will do it then, as well, obvs. Sunday we give away all the secrets, and the game is truly afoot… Less than a week…!



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