Read our The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
Assistant Director Vik Sivalingam tells us what's happening in the rehearsal room: Rehearsal Week 6
Tech week - when everything that has been worked on in the rehearsal room is now transferred on to the stage and the set.
Monday morning was spent with just the actors doing a speed run, simply to remind them of the play. We began the first tech session in the evening, starting from the top of the play and working our way through, inserting all the elements that would make it the final product that would become.
There were music and sound effects to be added, video and multi-media projection on the incredible surface of the set, and lighting the scenes to give them maximum impact. Also there were technical elements of a lift that carried actors from the bowels to the stage.
All these elements take time and patience to go over again and again and yet again! This process took the best part of three days which was really very efficient, and we were able to do a dress run on Thursday afternoon, finally seeing the play in it’s final version. Rehearsal Week 5
This week was when we concentrated on the detail of the play. After two runs in the previous weeks, there was a fluency in the scenes. The actors were beginning to own their characters and the play in the way that allowed the play to take on a life of it’s own.
Not content to leave at this, we dissected and interrogated the play further- really crystallizing what the characters were doing at any given point.
In order to achieve this, we worked individual scenes on Monday and Tuesday. We also scheduled in an intensive three-hour workshop with mask expert John Wright, who spent Tuesday afternoon with four actors working on archetypes.
Wednesday morning we ran Act One and then did working notes in the afternoon, and on Thursday we did the same for Act Two.
On Friday, we ran the play for the once again before the long Bank Holiday weekend. All in all, it was a satisfactorily thorough week, leaving us in a very comfortable place for the coming tech week. Rehearsal Week 4
This was the week for spit and polish. The run on Saturday had helped to give an overview of the play, the overall shape and the state of play that we were at.
What we realised from the run was where the story telling was clear and the places it needed clarifying and more importantly whose story we are telling.
So the majority of this week was really about deconstructing the play and working it through beat by beat in each of the scenes. This included breaking down some of the staging that had been agreed upon and making sure that the moves enhanced the story telling. Then on Friday afternoon, we ran the play in its entirety for the second time. Rehearsal Week 3
This week the rehearsal cranked up in intensity. We moved in to the part of the process when the actors are beginning to get ‘off book’- to work without their scripts.
Naturally, this is a slower and sometimes frustrating process. The actors stumble initially on the scenes simply because the lines now take on a different life and they have to find the various thoughts in the other actors and the space.
What is amazing about this part of the rehearsals is that as the scenes take shape, we begin to discover greater depths to the characters and situations. These revelations render some of the earlier choices either too easy or superfluous.
As the play takes shape both textually and physically, Rupert begins to address some of the moments that aren’t written in the play: moments that illuminate the friendship between Judas and Jesus- something that is reported a lot in the play.
We staggered the play in its entirety for the first time on Saturday morning- a useful exercise to see the shape of the play.
Rehearsal Weeks 1 & 2
The first day began with the obligatory meet and greet. In an established building like the Almeida, this is a more involved process simply due to the number of people. Once introductions were done, Rupert Goold (director) and Anthony Ward (designer) presented the model of the set to everyone.
We then gathered the company together to read the play. Rupert then talked about the play and its challenges: the subject matter that everyone will be aware of in some version, the inversion of this awareness and the intensely American vernacular that is the language of the play.
The rest of week one and two was spent looking at the scenes in isolation with the actors concerned. Rupert and the actors discuss the story of the scenes and the characters relationship to each other. Once a consensus is agreed upon, the scene is put on its feet in the playing space.