Seussical – Rehearsals

It’s now Friday; the day that ends my working week. So what better way to spend it than writing about my experience rehearsing and touring our latest project – Seussical.

Week 1

This week was a burst of all things fantastical, it was the start of our show rehearsals for Seussical the Musical. Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and the book by the two. In case you hadn’t guessed already it’s a musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss. Our task was to create a show for children as well and touring it around local primary schools as part of our Theatre in Education module.

We started off the week by first exploring what exactly we thought the show was about and how we could implement this into our performance. This week was very much about exploring and creating the magical world of Seuss through play. We dived into exercises relating to our own life experience, touching on the heightening of characters and the ‘BIG IDEA’.

The importance of treating everyone and the environment fairly, respecting and celebrating diversity in oneself and in others and challenging discrimination.

In Seussical, there are many moments where certain characters go against the ‘big idea’. My character happened to be one of the culprits of this. Wickersham 1 is part of a hypermasculine duo of monkey brothers who go out of their way, under the Sour Kangaroos impression, to make Horton the Elephant’s life a living hell. I was really excited about this because it meant that I would be playing a character that is mischievous and playful. Essentially I got to be a little kid again. Researching further from this our task was to create a mood board of ideologies and themes and representations of our character and present it to the class. I decided to be a Venezuelan Red Howler monkey.

Colombian-red-howler-monkey-mouth-open

I also collated images of jocks to emphasize the pack mentality of the Wickershams’ and the hypermasculinity nature of the character. This is something we thought enhanced their status in the ensemble as its what drives their intent. They have to be bigger than everyone else and when something isn’t going their way they take action and cause the trouble.

I also found Akram Khans’s work very inspiring in terms of movement for the monkeys as he’s all about creating shapes whilst staying grounded. I’ve seen several of his works and each one I’ve loved. This is what lead me to look into tribes and capoeira as an art form; the Wickershams’ had to be quick on their feet and on alert at all times.

Later in the week, we utilised this research by putting it into practice through the embodiment of our characters and finally choreographing the opening number. There was a great sense of freedom and exploration instilled into this week which I particularly enjoyed even if it did feel a bit slow-moving at times.

Week 2

Arriving today was our choreographer, Jenny Arnold. This week primarily focussed on blocking and choreographing scenes; it was also the first time I workshopped my duet – Monkey Around. It took me a few tries to fully get into the scene but after completion and an extra rehearsal on myself and Brendan’s behalf, I left feeling relatively happy with what we achieved.

* cue round of applause *

The majority of the week was loosely based on creating and running through everything we had so far. I spent my breaks sipping herbal tea continuously and nurturing my mini injury I suffered mid-week. Somehow I managed to pull my groin which hurt a hell of a lot. It felt as though it was hinging in and out of place consistently. A hot bubble bath was what was prescribed that evening. I spent the rest of the week playing catchup in terms of what I needed to be doing physically. By the end of the week, I was restored to full health. My other cast double, on the other hand, was not. He too suffered an injury, an injury I would later learn meant that he would not be able to perform in the shows.

A blessing or a curse?

Week 3

As part of my costume, I had to wear American footballers shoulder guards and this was the week we got to try them out. It helped with the overextending nature of the monkeys and spatially it caused little problems which was good. This was the week where my vocal health started to deteriorate.

Herbal tea and yet even more herbal tea.

It’s safe to say I like my tea. It was my friend during this week for sure. Further into the week we continued working in exploring scenes and blocking numbers in the order of the show. After a hectic week the show was finally pieces together and Friday was our first performance in the primary schools. I had the joy of performing twice on this particular day and the 2nd run went vastly better than the first. I think once you do one show you’re more set for the rest and that was definitely the case on friday.

Week 4

SHOW WEEK

Such fun. This was a week of travelling; Thankyou London for great transport links. What was so great about this experience was the cohort of children. Each school was different so you never knew exactly what you would be getting yourselves into. Some offered heaps of energy as an audience and you could easily spot out the ring leaders and cheeky monkeys in the audience whereas others offered little; instead opting for a seated silence despite watching intently. Regardless of the audience you still had to put on a god show and thats exactly what we did.

As a cast we were involved in the setting up and taking down of the set and making sure all the props and costumes were packed away ready for the next cast’s performance. I think it was a great experience in terms of reality when dealing with a small budget touring performance as it gave us an insight into how things work and where our career could take us.

Amidst the hectic schedule I made time for a class at Laban that Danni Middle was putting on for us. This week was heels. It was my 1st Heels Class and a really great way to get comfortable in a pair of heels whilst dancing.

The End

Our final performance of the tour was to be at Laurie Grove in which we invited friends and family to support us in our show. We, as a cast, hadn’t performed in this venue since our first year end of show The Dreaming so it all felt rather nostalgic.

So my final 12th Show was completed and the experience as a whole has been really rewarding and I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase this to a vast amount of audiences around our area. Being Christmas it felt right giving back to our community in one way or another and this definitely helped do that. Now though, it’s off to Berlin for me before going home for the holidays.

Let’s get merry.

Freshers

I made my move on the 4th September 2016 and was immediately greeted to a BBQ styled jam outside our very own Laban building. It was quite a cute little ice breaker for meeting people across the years. Whilst I was a tad bit disappointed there were no Whitney Houston songs playing, the drinks were cheap. So over the next two weeks our timetables consisted of freshers events and enrolment. And of course it was my birthday coming up and I vowed not to get belligerently drunk. Some things never change though. I clearly thought I was a pro walking down the streets of New Cross swigging out of a Sainsbury’s basic vodka bottle… straight. There’s little I actually remember from that night but the stories that unfolded the next morning were horrific. So my dancing was a show, my general being was just a mess and to top it all off I walked over and explain my attraction to another guy despite meeting him days earlier. Yep! You got it from me first – tragic! It’s not all glitz and glamour I’m afraid. Its cool though, it’s a funny story now but at the time I wanted to die. So Freshers came to an end with a boat party on the Thames and this was a cute little night for us all to have fun together. Then the fun really began to start.

We got right into acting by sharing stories that we found to be quite comical in telling and stories that were more emotional or had weight held to them. A lot was presented in these sessions and the beautiful-ness of it was that the stories were all raw and yes, some were hard-hitting but by just hearing a story that someone clearly had an emotional attachment to and in the way they portrayed it through honest authenticity and integrity really did move me. We then got hot and sweaty looking into each others eyes to see if we could gain anything from this. Deep, I know but these sessions were really fun and actually inspired myself and Hannah to take part in a social action event that was happening in London and all over the world through a community group called ‘Focallocal’ http://www.focallocal.org/ : The Worlds Biggest Eye Contact Experiment 2016. It was an amazing experience. We rounded up the end of term 1 with our Naturalism Assessments. I struggled with getting into my character and just letting go really but when it came down to the final showing I just had fun with it, whilst I’m still trying to master that I have made a slight improvement. Sometimes just getting up there and doing it can be the scariest moment in a person’s life.. but keep tuned there’s gonna be a blog post on fearlessness and letting go, so to speak. In dance I’ve been continuously working on my technique in Jazz, Ballet and Tap. Tap I’m not quite getting the swing of things for some reason or another, but I guess in time I’ll improve. I’ve been took on a kind of tour through Jazz history in one class. It’s been amazing getting to see how it’s slowly evolving in Shannon’s class. As for singing we’ve been working on our legit sounding voice and focusing on much more classical pieces of works and composers. Not my strongest field but I’m getting there.

A little while ago I wrote this on my Facebook:

“So I’ve been in London a month now and I can honestly say I’m having a grand old-time down here! I’m at an amazing university with a pretty fantastic bunch of people doing what we do best – or at least in my case trying to. As for London I’m finding it oddly peaceful, I feel like I’m in my own bubble of serenity at the minute which is weird because it’s hectic and busy all the time but I feel like I’m floating in a sea of people who are all focused on getting through the day and I love it! This newfound independence is rather exhilarating and call me dorky all you want but I’m excited for what it brings!!”

I think it explains a lot about my journey thus far.

Stay tuned..