The winter sun heats the otherwise freezing day on the second morning of Bound rehearsals in Didcot. I enter the theatre space and it is filled with an excited energy. Anja, creative director and actor in Bound and Luke, assistant director, are in deep discussion with their legs crossed on the black floor. Emma, acting one of the main characters, paces around the scaffolded set and greets me with a friendly smile and a small wave before continuing her ritualistic pacing around the set.
Dani, the third actor, performs different rituals, one of them being a long hand stand in the middle of the stage and another mastering the act of balancing a bucket on his nose.
Rachael, the costume designer, Callum, the sound designer, and Darren, the producer, all greet me with a friendly nod. Anja and Luke’s discussion has finished and she rushes over to give me a warm hug. After a few more preparations by the stage manager, Dene, the rehearsals are ready to begin.
Emma’s winter hat and scarf and the portable heaters are a reminder of the coldness outside, but the dynamic discussions and the energy of the first scene catalyse a warmth and excitement in the theatre. Emma’s dynamic fun, Dani’s energy and Anja’s enthusiasm in her character all flow beautifully together to create an exciting first rehearsal scene. Dani and Emma bounce off each other both creatively and literally as she chases him around the wheel barrow, follows him up a ladder and shares a biscuit with him. Meanwhile Anja writes a letter to her daughter describing her journey, perfectly emulating both excitement and fear.
Luke calls an end to the scene and gives the cast his notes. His orange hat gives him some sort of additional authority as he points and expresses what he feels could be done differently.
Another scene is set, Callum and Anja wave at each other before it begins and a new, fresh energy is found once again. Emma climbs the scaffolding and jokes at her fear of heights. The voices of the characters crescendo and blend into each other as Callum introduces the music that finishes the scene. Again, Luke shares his notes and ideas and the scenes are run again a fourth and a fifth time. The cast rest on the set, listening. Having done some acting myself repeating scenes evokes a strange feeling. Partly it is frustrating at repeating the same madness, partly exciting to add something new, partly a desire to get it right and partly it is a deep knowledge that repetition is the only way to perfect it.
11 o’clock marks the first hunger pangs as the crew begin munching on pastries and satsumas. As the smell of food wafts around the room, Emma’s character begins her monologue of her struggles. The monologue brings a different atmosphere into the room reminding us of the reason for this performance, reminding us of the distress and struggles of humans who are placed into slavery and trafficking. This monologue flows then into Anja’s character writing to her daughter about her life, attempting to hide the pain she is experiencing. Both of these sections are stark reminders of this subject matter that is so excellently tackled in the performance.
In rehearsals and indeed in performances, the focus can often be the actors and directors, it is sometimes be easy to forget those working behind the scenes. Out of the corner of my eye I see Dene constantly working hard, making notes, moving bits of the set and keeping a watchful eye over the performance. Callum has created a space for his laptop where he can operate the sound that merges seamlessly into the performance and creates a unique emotional element.
Rachael, the costume and prop designer is sitting in the aisles searching the internet for costumes and taking notes of what needs to be added to make the characters and set what they need to be.
Nomi, the lighting designer, works hard, exploring what lighting is necessary for each scene and putting it into complex detail on her plan.
As the actors energetically move, dance, jump and climb the impressive scaffolding structure, that is the set, shakes and creaks. It is a constant reminder of the importance of each person within this performance; actors and directors; stage managers and costume designers; sound engineers and lighting designers. Without all these essential people the production would not come together. As it is, the rehearsal shakes and creaks as everyone supports, encourages and challenges one another in aiming towards fantastic performances when the tour starts.
Justice in Motion Intern