Speeding ahead with VIRGIN - week 2 rehearsal blog

Simon Darwen gives his take on last week's rehearsal room shenanigans

So into the fray we threw ourselves. E-mails had been sent with the latest draft of the script from Emma and we were now in a position to start poring over the play in more detail.

From last week's beginnings we were now getting down to the nitty gritty of the work with our director. Joe Murphy loves to get to the details of the scenes through a process called ‘Events’. This is where you work out the main event/action in the scene and then go through each event that led up to the main one exploring each one's consequences. The events in this process become as important as the lines. With such a short rehearsal process they proved very useful, in fact vital when breaking down each scene.

Two of my biggest scenes are with the Queen of Sunderland Laura Elphinstone. We get to work reading the scene, before eventing it, and before you know it we’re up and it's on its feet.

Other dynamics of the cast also began to come to light as the second week progressed:

- We realised that the 3 bags of sweets for £1 from the corner shop over the road was going to aid us hugely in the coming weeks. However, we knew that any consumption of sweets before 11 could prove massively detrimental and induce ‘crashing’.

- On the above subject, we discovered that Michael Shelford's peak hours are between midnight and 2am. This means that he will struggle to speak let alone act in the mornings. Once a much needed lunch has been consumed (he starts to cry for it around 1pm), Shelford will demonstrate huge Lethargy in the rehearsal room till the final stretch (or ‘witching hour’) begins around 5pm. The witching hour gives actor and director alike a licence to speak in tongues and start quoting the god particle.

- I seem to have established a penchant for cockney rhetoric and insist upon righting all the wrongs in the world of theatre with huge volume and aggression.

- ‘Secret Theatre’ at the Lyric  dominates conversation as does Edward II at the National and Fleabag at the Soho.

- Three of the four of us are now talking in ‘Sheffield’ accents!

Towards the end of the week we do our first stagger-through run. It is genuinely amazing how we were able to do that after 9 days. Elphinstone has more lines than anyone and her performance is already being described as the female Hamlet.

I love this play and this crew and have forgotten how much I missed a small company. We have to work hard and fast to get there but get there we shall. My first professional job was with nabokov back in 2003 and I’m genuinely thrilled to be back working with them. As Rosie touched upon last week, there is simply no bigger thrill than knowing you are the first actor to work on a piece of new writing and developing that character for the first time.

Lets Ave it Watford...

Simon Darwen