It's great to be back in rehearsal and creatively working together again after the summer break. After the challenges of Kafka and Disturbing Shakespeare we have decided to work on something a little lighter in tone. Something comic. We also thought that, for this show, we would invite you to follow our journey as we create the production by sharing rehearsal shots and some thoughts on this blog.
We don't know exactly what we're making and that's part of the joy of devising. Being open to the new and unexpected. We began the process by improvising several scenes based on minor household disasters - the loo is blocked, the roof is leaking, the telly has, again, gone on the blink. The comic potential is not so much in the premise, but in the characters and their response to the frustrating world around them. We experimented with over-reaction and silent comedy to give us our base scenes. It was vital that whilst reactions to these problems were exaggerated they retained a sense of truth. These crises were very real to the characters themselves.
We then distorted the characters themselves. Each actor chose one characteristic from Disney's Seven Dwarves - Grumpy, Bashful, Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, Sleepy & Happy. The plot of each scene was retained but the nature of each character's response to the disaster could change. A character could have a variety of emotions (Grumpy could be happy, for example) but it would always be through the prism of that particular character. Grumpy's version of happiness would be very different from Doc or Sleepy's.
Dopey proved a popular choice of character but the richness of the improvisations meant that the versions of this particular 'Dwarf' were incredibly varied. We laughed a great deal without ever worrying if the scene was funny. We had paranoid conversations through letterboxes, extreme joy at the replacement of a lightbulb, collapsing ceilings and a kitchen where all the appliances were waging war against their owners.
We don't know yet if any of the night's improvisations will be the seed of a polished scene for the new show, but the comic idea that the everyday world is conspiring against particular characters could be fun to explore further.