Joe's 2ND MAY 1997 Rehearsal Diary

Rehearsals for our new show 2ND MAY 1997 by Jack Thorne are well underway. Indeed the show opens in a mere 9 days at The Bush. Here's Assistant Director Joe Murphy's dispatches from the frontline:

Hello everyone! So we are now half way through week three of rehearsals for 2nd May 1997 by Jack Thorne and they are going great! There have been explorations, improvisations, an injured foot, and an awful lot of Marks & Spencer Oat, Cranberry & Yogurt Cluster Mini Bites have been consumed!

We kicked off with some around the table work on Jack's beautiful script, and soon discovered how integral the physicality of this play is. So the first week was a combination of textual analysis and getting up on our feet. Speaking of feet, poor Hugh Skinner has been suffering from a dodgy ankle for a couple of weeks which has lead to a rather macho limp I think that he is considering keeping...

We had guest lecturer Dr Nick Allen come in from Royal Holloway to give us a 'Dummies Guide' to 'British Politics at the time of the 1997 general election'. It was a fascinating and incredibly useful afternoon! It was vital for us all to immerse ourselves in the political climate of 1997, as the characters are so immersed in it, and Dr Nick was an inspiring and passionate speaker! I realized how little I knew about how power is wielded in this country - it was a real eye opener!

We have also had our wonderful movement director Kate Sagovsky running movement sessions for the actors... and me! While the actors gracefully moved through the space embracing their bodies and the nuanced physical opportunities of the play, all 6ft 2 of long-ginger-haired me stumbled around, with all the grace of a rhino, attempting not to get in anyone's way! The movement sessions have been about opening up options for the actors physically, to allow the characters to be created with the mind and body. Kate has been an integral part of this process and the work she has been doing has greatly enriched rehearsals.

We have been allowing the culture of 1997 to flood the rehearsal room: Empire and FHM from May '97 have been floating around, as have posters of hit movies from that year such as Titanic, Swingers and The Full Monty - a golden age of cinema I'm sure you'll agree! And let us not forget the soundtrack, such classics as UmmBop (is that even how you spell it?) by Hanson and Things Can Only Get Better by D:Ream! The newspapers from the momentous day feature in the play and have been a great rehearsal tool to give us wider picture of what was happening at the time.

Over the last week or so we have really started to delve into the details of the play - analysing the key events of each scene and then using improvisation to explore them. This way of rehearsing is hard work but very rewarding as it allows the actors to engage their creativity and create complex and nuanced characters. The work the actors have been creating in these improvisations is astounding, they are all working so well together! We interrogate the discoveries of the improvisations against the text and see what works and what we haven't quite found yet - all in all it has been a stimulating few weeks!

Well that's all for now but please do keep an eye out for future blogs from the 2nd May 1997 rehearsal room! It'd be great to hear if anyone out there has got any memories about the 1997 election they'd like to share, where were you when Blair came to power? What was your soundtrack to '97? Also I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether Hugh should keep his sexy limp, and if anyone thinks that I might have a future career as a physical performance artist, I'm sure Kate does...