Week One of rehearsals for VIRGIN

Rosie Wyatt shares news hot from the Watford rehearsal room for E.V. Crowe's VIRGIN

So today is the Saturday of our first week of rehearsals and we were due to be in the Barn in Watford rehearsing all day but we’re not and that’s a great thing. Not because it means we get a weekend off, but because it means we actually got ahead of ourselves, schedule-wise and have reached a really exciting point in the rehearsal process. It also gives me a moment to look back at the week that was and share with you a bit of the experience…

I say ‘week’… Rehearsals for Virgin didn’t actually kick off until Wednesday because one of our awesome cast members, Laura Elphinstone, is so in demand that we had to wait until we could steal her away from another project before we could get going.  Fortunately she was absolutely worth the wait and as it happened she was the only member of the cast that I did have to wait to meet. Having already worked with actor Simon Darwen and already knowing actor Michael Shelford, I was feeling pretty confident as I hopped on the 9.24 Euston – Watford train. Add to that that I had previously worked with director Joe Murphy on two other plays, had been a long time admirer of writer EV Crowe’s work and had heard nothing but wonderful things about the aforementioned Ms Elphinstone, I wasn’t feeling those first day butterflies that you could normally expect to be a-flutter in your stomach – but they showed up eventually.

Virgin is part of the Watford Palace’s Ideal World Season and we weren’t rocking up just to put our own play together but to join in an on-going project, so of course there was a whole host of brand new people to meet. There was even a whole other company of actors to meet and size up. They were the cast of the first play in the season, Perfect Match, and the verdict was that they were ruddy lovely. Once we’d stood in a circle and loudly and clearly declared our names and our job titles (a few of us definitely nearly stumbled over this simplest of tasks… as my turn to speak edged ever closer around the circle I could see the fear in Michael, Laura and Simon’s eyes and knew that we were all thinking the same thing: "What’s my character called? What’s my character called??") and viewed our model box, it was time for the read-through (there was another brief moment here where we bonded over our collective first day fear, as our wide-eyed stares to one another said… "They’re not ALL going to stay to listen to the read–through, are they??") The room emptied slightly (we then gave each other ‘phew’ eyebrow raises… not because we didn’t like the look of the fantastic team we’d just met but because whatever group you’re in, first reads are nerve-wracking) and we got reading. It was bloody exhilarating actually. It was a brand new draft that none of us actors had seen before so we weren’t just hearing the other characters come to life for the first time, we were discovering brand new things about the play together. woo yeah…

And the week carried on in much the same exciting vein! I love working on new writing.  It’s such a privilege to have such a complex and intelligent script to pore over and such wonderful sparky colleagues to bounce ideas around with. It is so satisfying to have our writer Emma in the room with us for our script work and then see the play shift and change as each morning Emma brings in a tweaked version of the script (resulting in a lot of printing for our DSM Neil). We’ve quibbled over ellipses, delved in to the worlds of our characters, shared a few good anecdotes and just really started getting to grips with the play.

And that brings us to where we are now. LOCK DOWN. Or awaiting it… We’ve reached a point in the process where all the talking about the play is done and we need to start doing it.  So to proceed with the final two weeks of rehearsals (Two Weeks, AH!) we need a locked down version of the script so that we can begin to make firm decisions about our characters and about the staging and so we can begin to learn lines. So today whilst I’ve gone to the gym and watched the X Factor, Emma has been hard at work and tomorrow evening we will get the definitive version of our rehearsal script ready to begin work again on Monday morning… Can’t. Wait!

Rosie Wyatt