Will Keen and Phoebe Nicholls in Waste at the Almeida Theatre London. Photo Johan Persson

Waste

By Harley Granville Barker
Ticket prices: £6 - £29.5
Thu 25 Sep 2008 - Sat 15 Nov 2008

'A scandal half-stifled is worse than a scandal'

 

Radical politician Henry Trebell sees his personal and political lives collide.

 

An affair with a married woman threatens Trebell’s power and passionate ideals; her insistence on a woman's right to choose bring private scandal into the public spotlight.

 

Controversially banned by the Lord Chamberlain on its release, Waste is a rich portrait of early 20th Century society with strong resonances and relevance for today. 

 

Widely regarded as the founder of modern British theatre, Harley Granville Barker’s work includes The Madras House and The Voysey Inheritance, recently revived at the National Theatre. 

 

Samuel West’s directing credits include The Romans In Britain, Insignificance and As You Like It for Sheffield Theatres and Dealer’s Choice at the Trafalgar Studios. As an actor his extensive work on stage includes Betrayal for the Donmar Warehouse and Hamlet and Richard II for the RSC.

 

Talkback 28 October 2008

Stay in the auditorium after the performance to have your questions answered by members of the Waste company.
Free to same day ticket holders.

 

Evening perfomances 7.30pm

Saturday matinees 3pm

Wednesday matinees (29 Oct & 12 Nov) 2.30pm

 

Running Time: 2 hours 40 mins plus 20 minute interval

  • BruceAlexanderforweb.jpgBruceAlexanderforweb.jpg
  • HelenandJessicaweb.jpgHelenandJessicaweb.jpg
  • Hughrossforweb.jpgHughrossforweb.jpg
  • JessicaandHelenweb.jpgJessicaandHelenweb.jpg
  • MaxHelenJeanyweb.jpgMaxHelenJeanyweb.jpg
  • NancyandJeanyweb.jpgNancyandJeanyweb.jpg
Waste - The Cast
Bruce Alexander
Bruce Alexander - Gilbert Wedgecroft

Bruce Alexander appeared at the Almeida Theatre in The Tempest in 2000; his other extensive theatre credits include All’s Well That Ends Well, Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and The Merry Wives of Windsor for the RSC; The Reporter, The History Boys, The Mandate, and A Fair Quarrel for the National Theatre; Life After Scandal at Hampstead Theatre, Pericles at the Lyric Hammersmith, The Beggar’s Opera for the Orange Tree Theatre,and King Lear at The Globe Theatre. His television work includes Heartbeat, Midsomer Murders, The Brittas Empire, Peak Practice, Poirot, Thatcher: The Last Days, Keeping Up Appearances, and A Touch of Frost. His films include Churchill at War, A Christmas Carol, Ladybird Ladybird, and Nostradamus.
Max Bennett
Max Bennett - Walter Kent
 
Max Bennett trained with the National Youth Theatre and L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He has recently finished filming for the upcoming film The Duchess, and appeared on stage in Cymbeline directed by Trevor Nunn at Cambridge Arts Theatre and a national tour of Under The Blue, Blue Moon with Cambridge Footlights.
Nancy Carroll
Nancy Carroll - Amy O'Connell
 
Nancy last appeared at the Almeida Theatre in Jonathan Kent’s production of King Lear. Her other extensive theatre credits include Coward, Cocktails and Cabaret for Chichester Festival Theatre and The Enchantment, Man of Mode, The Voysey Inheritence, The False Servant and The Talking Cure all for the National Theatre.  For the RSC her credits include Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, As You Like It, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Winter’s Tale. Sam West has previously directed her in The Lady’s Not for Burning for Chichester Festival Theatre.  Her film credits include Iris and An Ideal Husband and on television she has been seen in Cambridge Spies, Doctors and Midsomer Murders.
Richard Cordery

Richard Cordery - Russell Blackborough

Richard Cordery’s theatre credits include Michael Boyd’s productions of Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3, Richard II and Richard III, Nancy Meckler’s production of The Comedy of Errors and Lindsey Posner’s production of Volpone, all for the RSC. His other theatre credits include Othello for Michael Attenborough in Stratford Ontario, The Winter’s Tale for the Young Vic and The Front Page for Chichester Festival Theatre. His film credits include The Loss Adjuster and Lorenzo’s Oil.  On television his work includes Midsomer Murders, Absolute Power, The Falklands Play and Trauma.

Patrick Drury

Patrick Drury - Justin O'Connell

Patrick Drury’s theatre credits include Fram, Major Barbara, and The Enchantment for the National Theatre, Mother Courage and Her Children, Hamlet, Twelfth Night and King Lear for English Touring Theatre, Someone Else’s Shoes for English Touring Theatre and Soho Theatre, Afore Night Come for the Young Vic and Silas Marner for The Orange Tree Theatre. His film work includes Laughterhouse, The Awakening and The Nightingale Saga, while his television credits include Silent Witness, Judge John Deed, Cold Blood, Father Ted and Midsomer Murders.

Peter Eyre

Peter Eyre - Lord Charles Cantilupe
 
Peter Eyre’s Almeida Theatre credits include Camera Obscura, Chère Maître in which he played opposite Irene Worth and Hamlet in which he played Polonius.  His other, more recent, theatre credits include Ring Round the Moon at the Playhouse, The Cherry Orchard for Sheffield Crucible,  Terre Haute for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, on tour nationally and in the West End, The Wild Duck for the Old Vic and Don Carlos for Sheffield Theatres and The Gielgud.  His film credits include The Affair of the Necklace, Surviving Picasso, Remains of the Day and Maurice.  His television credits include Question of God, Cambridge Spies, Don Quixote, Bertie and Elizabeth and Friends.

Will Keen

Will Keen - Henry Trebell

Will Keen was last at the Almeida Theatre as T S Eliot in Tom and Viv. His other theatre credits include The Arsonists for the Royal Court, Kiss of the Spider Woman for the Donmar Warehouse, Five Gold Rings - also for the Almeida, Cheek by Jowl’s The Changeling at the Barbican, The Rubenstein Kiss for the Hampstead Theatre, Peter Hall’s productions of Don Juan and Man and Superman for the Theatre Royal Bath, Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia at the National Theatre, and Neil Bartlett's production of Pericles at the Lyric Hammersmith.  His film work includes Love and Other Disasters and The Nine Lives of Thomas Katz.  On television he has been seen as Francis Bacon in C4’s Elizabeth and Cezanne in The Impressionists for the BBC.

Helen Lindsay

Helen Lindsay - Countess Mortimer/Bertha
 
Helen Lindsay has previously appeared at the Almeida Theatre in Chatski directed by Jonathan Kent; her other extensive theatre credits include Granville Barker’s The Voysey Inheritance at the National Theatre, An Ideal Husband at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, An Inspector Calls on the West End, Les Liaisons Dangereuse for the RSC, Thark at the Lyric Hammersmith, Habeus Corpus for Nottingham Playhouse and The Rivals and Charley’s Aunt for Oxford Playhouse Tour. Her film credits include Leningrad, The Wedding Date, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, AKA, Secrets and The Tribe, and her television work includes Poirot, Foyle’s War, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Ella and Her Mothers and Misomer Murders.

Phoebe Nicholls

Phoebe Nicholls - Frances Trebell


Phoebe Nicholls has recently appeared in The Vortex in the West End and on national tour, Three Women and a Piano Tuner at the Hampstead Theatre, Hysteria at the Royal Court, An Inspector Calls and Pravada at the National Theatre, Three Sisters and The Seagull in the West End, and The Cherry Orchard at Chichester Festival Theatre. Her film credits include Cuckoos, Persuasion, Fairy Tale, Heart of Darkness and The Elephant Man, and her extensive television work includes Clapham Junction, The Trial of Tony Blair, All About Me, Spooks, The Brief, Hawking, Foyle’s War, Prime Suspect VI, Shackleton, and Second Sight.

Hugh Ross

Hugh Ross - Cyril Horsham

Hugh Ross’ recent theatre credits include Bent at Trafalgar Studios, 5/11 at Chichester Festival Theatre, Pyranees at the Tron Theatre Glasgow, Menier Chocolate Factory and Watford Palace Theatre, Love Me Tonight at Hampstead Theatre, The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre, West End, Hare Trilogy at the Birmingham Rep, and A Prayer for Owen Meany and Battle Royal for the National Theatre. His film work includes Young Hannibal, Charlotte Grey, The Four Feathers, Gooseberries Don’t Dance and Trainspotting. His television credits include The Palace, Mine All Mine, Sea of Souls and The Cazalet Chronicles.

Jeany Spark

Jeany Spark - Lucy Davenport 
 
Jeany Spark trained at RADA where she appeared in productions including A Mouthful of Birds, Scenes From the Big Picture, and Rabbit. She has also appeared in Twelfth Night at Houghton Hall (Theatre Royal Norwich Fundraiser). Her television credits include Wallander, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Lewis.

Giles Taylor

Giles Taylor - Butler/Vivian Saumarez 


Giles Taylor’s theatre credits include The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre, Othello and Relative Values at Salisbury Playhouse, The Wizard of Oz at Birmingham Rep/West Yorkshire Playhouse, numerous productions at the Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park including Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Longitude at Greenwich Theatre, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice and Talk of the City for the RSC.  His film credits include Tom and Viv and Orlando, whilst on television he has appeared in Stuart: A Life Backwards, Friends and Crocodiles, Secrets of the Psychics and Karaoke. He has also performed several radio plays.

Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas - George Farrant
 
Michael Thomas previously appeared in Festen at the Almeida Theatre and its West End transfer; his other extensive theatre credits include St Joan, Pillars of the Community, A Winter’s Tale, The Rivals and Oresteia for the National Theatre, Women Beware Women, Edward III, The Roman Actor, The Comedy of Errors, Henry V and Henry IV Part 2 for the RSC, Our Country’s Good at the Liverpool Everyman Playhouse,  In Praise of Love and King Lear at Chichester Festival Theatre, Under The Curse for the Gate Theatre, and Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet for the Actors’ Shakespeare Company. His television credits include Holby Blue, Trial and Retribution, Ultimate Force III and EastEnders, while his film credits include Paper Mask.

Jessica Turner

Jessica Turner - Lady Julia Farrant


Jessica Turner recently appeared in the national tour of Present Laughter, as well as Girl in the Goldfish Bowl at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, and King Lear for English Touring Co/Young Vic. She has appeared in numerous productions at the National Theatre including Speer, Equus, and Animal Farm, whilst her other theatre credits include Good at the Donmar Warehouse, Haiti/Rwanda at the Tricycle Theatre, That Summer at the Hampstead Theatre, and In Order of Appearance, Much Ado About Nothing and The Last Mrs Cheney at Chichester Festival Theatre. Her television credits include Countdown to War: Iraq, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Waking The Dead, Spooks, The Cazalet Chronicles and Polterguests. Her film work includes Deeply and The Mill on the Floss.

 
Waste - Creative Team


Samuel West - Director

Samuel West’s directing credits include The Romans In Britain, Insignificance and As You Like It as Artistic Director for Sheffield Theatres, Patrick Marber’s Dealer’s Choice at the Trafalgar Studios and Menier Chocolate Factory, Cosi Fan Tutte for English National Opera and Three Woman and a Piano Tuner for the Minerva Theatre Chichester and Hampstead Theatre. As an actor his extensive work on stage includes Betrayal for the Donmar Warehouse, A Number and Much Ado About Nothing for Sheffield Theatres, Doctor Faustus and The Master and Margarita for Chichester Festival Theatre, the title roles in Hamlet and Richard II for the RSC and The Sea and Arcadia for the National Theatre. His many film credits include Iris, Jane Eyre and Persuasion, whilst on television his credits include Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley, Foyles War and Cambridge Spies.
 
Peter McKintosh - Design 
 
Peter McKintosh’s extensive design credits for theatre includes his work on The 39 Steps in London, on international and UK tour, and on Broadway for which he was nominated for two TONY awards. His other credits for theatre design include Cloud Nine and Romance for the Almeida Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof, The Dumb Waiter, Summer and Smoke, Donkeys’ Years, The Home Place, The Birthday Party, Ying Tong, and A Woman of No Importance all in the West End, King John, Brand, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles, and Alice in Wonderland for the RSC, Honk! and Widowers’ Houses for the National Theatre, and The Chalk Garden, John Gabriel Borkman and The Cryptogram for the Donmar Warehouse. His opera work includes The Silent Twins for Almeida Opera, the world premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale for Royal Danish Opera, English National Opera and Canadian Opera, and the UK premiere of Michael Nyman’s Love Counts. His design for dance includes Cut To The Chase for English National Ballet.
 
Guy Hoare - Lighting
 
Guy Hoare’s theatre credits for lighting design include Amadeus, The Little Fir Tree, Fen, Far Away and Macbeth for Sheffield Theatres, The Lion,The Witch & The Wardrobe, Bollywood Jane, Macbeth, and How Many Miles to Basra? for West Yorkshire Playhouse, Season's Greetings for Liverpool Playhouse, Of Mice and Men for Mercury Theatre, Colchester, A Streetcar Named Desire for Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Accidental Heroes for the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and UK tours of Old Times, The Caretaker, and Closer amongst many others. His work on musicals includes The Witches of Eastwick, All The Fun of The Fair and Aspects of Love all on UK Tour and Assassins for Sheffield Theatres, whilst he has designed for numerous operas with companies including English Touring Opera, Longborough Festival Opera, and Opera UK. His dance credits include Havana Rakatan for Sadler’s Wells, Mischief for Theatre Rites, And Who Shall Come To The Ball? for Candoco. 
  
John Leonard - Sound
 
John Leonard has previously worked on sound design at the Almeida Theatre for The Homecoming, Big White Fog, Dying For It, Hedda Gabler, Macbeth, Brighton Rock, Whistling Psyche, Five Gold Rings, The Mercy Seat, and I.D.  He has also worked extensively on productions for the National Theatre including the recent Much Ado About Nothing and The Enchantment, productions for the RSC including Antony and Cleopatra, The Prisoner's Dilemma, and Romeo and Juliet, and extensive work for the Druid Theatre Galway/Dublin, Soho Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Oxford Playhouse and Liverpool Playhouse. His work in the West End and on Broadway includes In Celebration, Kean, Glengarry Glen Ross and Translations.

 
Articles and Reviews

REVIEWS
 
***** (5 stars) "The finest ensemble acting to be seen in London for ages... mesmerising performances... To watch Keen and Nicholls is to experience theatre acting at its finest... what an overwhelming experience"
Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard, 3 Oct 2008
Read full review


"Another forgotten gem unearthed by the Almeida… Sam West’s production is superlative, with a 15-strong cast without a weak link… sharp-eyed and, in many ways, timeless"
Kate Bassett, Independent on Sunday, 5 October 2008
Read full review

**** (4 stars) "[An] immaculate production…Waste is a remarkably astute and revealing political drama… Strongly recommended"
Paul Taylor, Independent, 6 October 2008
Read full review
 
**** (4 stars) "One of the most absorbing accounts of practical politics you are ever likely to see – right up there with Shakespeare and Schiller…opulent designs by Peter McKintosh and a virtually flawless cast… a spellbinding production of a superbly rich and subtle play"
Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 4 October 2008
 
***** (5 stars) "Lovers of good drama and politics junkies should flock to Samuel West’s superb revival of Harley Granville Barker’s play"

Michael Billington, Guardian, 4 October 2008
  
**** (4 stars) "Barker brings the personal convictions, arguments and plotting thrillingly to life… Will Keen is marvellous as Trebell, a riveting stage presence… this is a wonderfully rich and assured production of a play of remarkable contemporaneity"
Christopher Hart, Sunday Times, 5 October 2008
Read full review
 
**** (4 stars) "So up to date and to the point in our own cynical era… beautifully played by Keen and Carroll… also fine performances from Phoebe Nicholls, Richard Cordery and Peter Eyre"
Benedict Nightingale, The Times, 4 October 2008
Read full review

 

**** (4 stars) "A flawless revival...an impeccable cast"

Georgina Brown, Mail on Sunday, 12 October 2008
 

"A fascinating play...crackles with sardonic dialogue"
Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail, 3 October 2008

 

"A handsome, subtle production...beautifully acted"

Sarah Hemming, Financial Times, 11 October 2008

Read full review

 

"Samuel West's production is precise and deluxe...skilfully staged"

Susannah Clapp, The Observer, 12 October 2008 


***** (5 stars) "Completely electrifying"
Michael Coveney, whatsonstage.com, 3 October 2008 
Read full review
  
***** (5 stars) ‘Show of the Week’: "The play, last seen at the Old Vic in 1997, is much better suited to a smaller space like the Almeida… a sensitive and engrossing production"
Jane Edwardes, Time Out, 9 October 2008
Read full review
 

ARTICLES
 
Benedict Nightingale on Harley Granville Barker, 'the man who invented theatre'
- The Times, 22 Sep 2008 
 
Read article

 
 
Audience Response

“A superb production, and a timely revival of a fascinating play; beautifully designed, and cast to the hilt - how on earth could you afford such quality?  Everyone was wonderful, and it is almost invidious to pick out Will Keen (except he is the lead, and quite remarkable as such) and the heart-breaking Phoebe Nicholls. Huge congratulations to all concerned.” 

 

“It is a very long time since I have been so swept up by a play, and taken into another world and another time for a totally absorbing evening. You have done British theatre a great service in giving this play a definitive new production, with an impeccably edited text and with every detail right. Congratulations.” 

 

“A very powerful production with outstanding ensemble work from the company. The end is absolutely knockout and brings the whole play into focus. The Almeida experience is, as always, delightful with friendly staff and delightful surroundings. Thank you all very much.”
 
“Fantastic production and grippingly performed”

 

“Waste was just superb! Our first visit to the theatre - but won't be our last - the whole experience from the booking of the tickets with a most helpful lady to the comfort and performance was most enjoyable - so looking forward to the next time!”

 

“Another magnificent evening! I thought I might wilt in the second half but I was totally gripped throughout. Impeccable acting from the whole cast, no matter how big or small the part – I particularly loved the scene between Will Keen and Phoebe Nicholls – beautifully staged and dressed."
 
“Waste provides a perfect insight how power works. Highly recommended! Brilliant cast displays the carefully balanced aspects in private and public relationships.” 


“Please convey our congratulations to everyone concerned with last night's performance. Strongly acted, very well written and directed with an absorbing argument. The players in the last few moments were also especially affecting. The sets were superb!!”  


“It is an interesting play and you put on an excellent production with overall first-class casting. Richard Cordery, Patrick Drury, Phoebe Nicholls and Peter Eyre I thought outstanding."
 
“It was a joy and privilege to follow this wonderful play so closely and observe the amazing acting - it was a great evening."
  
"MARVELLOUS play, design, acting, and music!" 

 

“Probably the best thing I’ve seen this year - terrific cast and intelligently directed: what a clever boy Sam is! And how clever of Michael to have asked him to do it: perfect timing! Full marks all round.” 

“A most excellent production” 
 
“Sam West has done a brilliant job of marshalling a complex play, full of interesting ideas, into a lucid fascinating expose of political mores which are as relevant today as then. Well done Almeida for spotting this excellent play, casting it SO well and launching it with such aplomb. When I got home last night I sat down to do my emails, and felt constrained to tell everyone I had to respond to  that I had just spent one of the best nights at the theatre of my life!"
 
“I was quite mesmerised by the play and enjoyed it a lot. It was one of those plays I kept thinking about for the next few days, so I guess you'd call it quite affecting. Thanks again - and congratulations on such a success.”
 
“I really enjoyed Waste last night - I thought it was a marvellous production and wonderfully acted”
 
”I thought this was a great production of a most interesting play. It was a treat to see a play that was actually about something, with a large and excellent cast and good sets. Thoroughly enjoyable evening - a success all round."
 
“Great evening; great to discover more about the author and his work. Thank you.” 
 
“We were very impressed with all aspects of the play. The performances were all excellent - the portrayals given by Will Keen and Phoebe Nicholls were superlative. Thanks for a moving, memorable and thought provoking experience.” 
  
“Three hours of really credible performances - excellent value for money.” 

“A superb production of Waste with a marvellous cast. Will Keen was mesmerising. Seats only £10 for OAPs: magnificent! Long may the Almeida thrive!”
 
“I thought Waste was amazingly good. The performances and the production awareness of the historical and political history and the implications of these were remarkable. There was exceptional awareness of the necessity to take pause time to convey the thought behind utterances. Extremely well cast. There seemed to be a deep understanding of Granville Barker's dialogue and his appreciation of individual characters.” 
  
“A superb play which travels well in time and is just as right today as when written. Well acted, beautifully cast and thoughtfully directed. A great night out.” 

 
 
Waste Podcast


Samuel West, director of Waste talks about the play and its author Harley Granville Barker in our exclusive podcast.
 
Listen to Samuel talk about the play and why even though it is over 100 years old the events could have happened yesterday, in fact they probably did. 
 
Hear about Waste
 
Listen to Samuel West talk about Waste's author Harley Granville Barker. Samuel explains the importance of Harley Granville Barker to British Theatre and explains why Waste was banned upon its release.


Hear about Harley Granville Barker 

 

Click here to download the podcast transcript

 
 
Waste Rehearsal Blog

Assistant Director on Waste, Henry Bell, tells us what's happening in the rehearsal room:
 
Week 6
 
This week has been tech week, which is when all the technical elements of the play come together. It is infamous for long hours, short tempers and occasionally moments of danger and excitement. However everyone is really well organised at the Almeida and the whole thing went very well indeed.
 
Guy [Hoare], the lighting designer, has been in rehearsals for four weeks, knows the show back to front and was able to plot and focus with maximum ease. Peter [McKintosh], the designer, has done a fantastic job at creating a practical solution to having three completely different locations for a four-act play. John [Leonard], the sound designer, seems to have every sound effect – and to Sam [West]’s delight, bird song, at his finger tips and the Stage Management somehow manage to combine working incredibly hard whilst remaining incredibly well humoured. I think there’s something in the water round Islington way.
 
Once we have been through the play checking the technical elements it is time to do a dress rehearsal. We managed two of these, typically known as the moment to make your mistakes. After the tech and dresses it is time to preview – a terrifying prospect of letting the general public in to see months of work. The whole creative team are there furiously trying to not distract punters with constant note scribbling. Sam has been relentless with his noting and subsequent rehearsals through the preview period; it’s great to see nothing get compromised (apart form the hours of sleep he has), and the cast are equal to his commitment to very high standards.
 
So we are nearly there. The press are in on Thursday, it’s been a joy to work on and I hope that this show goes down well among the general public. Eavesdropping conversations outside (another essential Assistant Director duty) and working on the play with local schools has gone some way to reinforce my belief that the issues of this play and the world it reflects are relevant to our society and ought to be discussed and thought about right now.



Week 5
 
After going through the play twice in considerable detail, this week was more about going back to basics: the primary principles of intention, given circumstances, listening and being, not acting.  As the actors started to see the bigger the picture the week followed a peculiar paradox – I could see them relaxing into their characters but also see them tense up at the prospect of opening the show in just over a week.
 
This paradox creates an electric atmosphere in rehearsals and it has been a great week. Special mention has to go to Phoebe Nicholls and Will Keen who have been working through the Fourth Act constantly beating themselves up despite making some spectacular theatre. It’s fantastic to see such high standards and, when we ran the play for the first time I think it was no coincidence that the Fourth Act, which is a really tricky piece of text, was the most exciting.
 
After running the play Sam [West] gathers the whole company together to give notes. I think that your ability to give notes is the litmus test of a theatre director – get them wrong and you get the company unnecessarily anxious and disillusioned with their work – get them right and you manage to create the piece of theatre you’ve been working towards for the past four to five months. Sam’s notes are a delight to watch – I think his work as an actor prepares him ably for the task since not only does he understands the needs of the cast – sometimes it’s good just to get technical notes about your performance – but he also brings his ideas across in a way that makes each note seem like a performance in itself!
 
This week has also lead to another theory on being an assistant director. Part of the duty of the role is to be bought a pint or two by the director after runs and to share ideas. Sam has been incredibly generous with both buying and listening and occasionally I have something useful to say. Now there are moments when Sam will bring my ideas across to the company and introduce them as my idea and there are times when he does not. It may sound strange but it is much more satisfying to go uncredited and there have several moments of personal pride this week when Sam has worked through a note I have given and the cast not notice that it is an idea from the AD. You never know, I might even be learning something from this experience.
Next week is tech week. Bring on the caffeine!

 

Week 4

A great deal of this week’s work has been spent creating the scenes that happen off stage in the play. In Waste there are several crucial moments and events that are reported on but we never see. For one moment, at the beginning of the second half of the play, Sam found a section from the 1907 text which covers the exact ground of the conversation taking place before the lights come up. I think starting scenes in the middle of conversations is a great dramatic device and Granville Barker does this at the beginning of Act 3. However it is important for the actors to be able to come in at the right level of intensity and it was fascinating to see how Sam created this.
 
This week also saw the first bit of the run so far in the rehearsal process. On Monday Sam decided to run the whole of Act 2. This was because the Act is a series of duologues featuring Will [Keen] and he felt it was good for Will to get a sense of the arch of the progression of his character. Watching the run, then giving my thoughts to Sam afterwards, reinforced ideas I’ve had about what an assistant director needs to look out for.
 
In my experience the director usually deals with the big stuff and the interesting stuff – leaving the assistant director to look out for the fiddly stuff and the boring stuff. It’s actually a really fun thing to do – I make notes on sight-lines, whether I can hear certain lines, to slam a door or to not slam a door, historical posture and it’s important to have something of the idiot about you when working out the clarity of the scene. I’m proud on this show to be Sam’s idiot and, despite this being a show full of ideas, my idiot persona hasn’t been too confused. I’ve also occasionally made notes of the big stuff and the interesting stuff but just enough to not get too big for my boots.
 
The rest of the week was working through the play at a more rapid rate than we have done (no celebrity guest this week) so that we would have gone through the play twice before we get to next week when we shall run an act a day and then start running the whole play.


Week 3
 
I always think that one of the great thing about working in the theatre is that each project teaches you something new and, three weeks into rehearsal, I feel a lot more enlightened on topics I never thought I’d know anything about
 
Disestablishment is at the heart of Waste – the main character, Trebell is trying to get a bill through Parliament that will disestablish the church and it is amazing to find out the exact position of the church at the moment. Any change to the structure of ideologue of the church has to passed by the House of Commons, bishops are appointed by politicians and they swear total allegiance to the Queen. What is even more incredible is that it has been this way since the 17th Century.
 
The actors met as a full company to havea round table discussion about their characters. I myself think it is very useful on a variety of levels; firstly it brings the company together a few weeks in an with a big cast like this is a rarity and secondly this is a political play and it is important that the company are actively engaged in discussing it.
 
We also had another visitor to rehearsal in the form of Martin Bell, the former independent politician. Alas, I was busy frantically writing for the programme whilst he was talking but I managed to catch up with him in the pub afterwards. He spoke, even in the King’s Head, with great passion and wit and pointed out how important independent politicians can be (Trebell in Waste is an independent MP) – they act as a vital thorn in the side of the establishment. He also pointed out the various cynicisms and corruptions of modern politics; it is interesting to note that these are also found in some of characters in Waste written in 1926 - it’s amazing how things change.

 
Week 2
 
This week we have been steadily going through the play chronologically and at 13.30 on Saturday we have reached the end of Act 3. It has been a fascinating process and one that has revealed a great deal about the play.
 
The mantra from Sam this week has been ‘Don’t play the mood of the scene, play the action’. Before the rehearsal process Sam goes through the whole play and actions it for himself – this is to make sure that he has a response to every part of the text.
 
It has also been a great week for getting underneath the skin of the play. Peter Hall once described Waste as ‘The best play written about politicians since Shakespeare’ I think he has a point. The battle between the public and the private lives that politicians lead is always something we read about but rarely see dramatised and I think that partly because of this Waste is a great play for today.
 
It is typical of Granville Barker to present such a well rounded and fascinating study of people – I have worked on a Granville Barker play before and it never fails to amaze just how long you can spend dissecting a scene and discovering new things. Luckily there is a bell in rehearsal that anyone can ring when they feel we have been talking too long, Sam contributes a pound for each ring. I ‘m hoping this year’s charity will be the National Association of Assistant directors, at the moment, the pot has six pounds in it. I will keep you updated on its progress.

 
Week 1

‘You are not, I hope, going to tell me that the fellow drops from the skies, ready-made, at the moment you walk on the stage?’  -Harley Granville Barker.

The first week has been a fascinating process of establishing the facts of the play. Day One started with the read-through which then lead to the erection of a huge roll of paper over one side of the vastly spacious rehearsal room at 108. “This”, said Sam, “Is for establishing the facts of the play.” And so we did. Many hours of filling what happens in the bits that we don’t see on stage followed. What happens the months between Act 1 and Act 2? When exactly did Amy O'Connell and Justin O'Connell get married? Who is related to whom? What is the exact make-up of the Cabinet in the play? I could create a list pages long of the amount of questions that were answered - and occasionally not answered - over this first week. As a kid director it has been fantastic to see the enormous level of detail that Sam and the cast have gone into in order to make Waste, as Sam said on day one, “a new play”.

We also got a huge treat on Day One when unofficial holder of the title ‘coolest pensioner in the history of the world’ Tony Benn came in to talk about disestablishment (separating in the Church of England from the Crown and the State). He himself, like Henry Trebell in the play, had prepared a disestablishment bill in the 70s and 80s but it didn’t even reach the discussion process. We spent a couple of hours going through exactly what it meant and got wonderfully side tracked by Tony’s amazing ability to tell fantastic stories. It was also a very useful way of getting the politics of the play alive and authentic on day one. It was also just great to sit in a room with Tony Benn for a few hours.

Sam quoted the quote at the top of the piece by Granville Barker (I found it but he must have forgotten to credit me!) to the actors early on in rehearsal, and for me it sums exactly what we have done this week. Granville Barker was a director obsessed with biography and back-story, he passionately wanted the actors to create well rounded, fully formed people. This is an idea Sam has grabbed and run with excellently; all the cast are making their four lists where you have to write out everything that the author says about your character, what your character says about him/herself, what your character says about other people and what other people say about your character. This is to avoid woolly and incorrect character choices early on in the rehearsal process.

It was satisfying to see the difference between the first read-through and the second which came a few days after we had gone through the play with a fine toothed comb. If this level of detail and commitment is maintained I feel this play could cause just as much as a stir as it did in 1907 when it was first banned from the English stage. Either way I don’t care, just as long as I can smoke a pipe with Tony Benn if he can make it to the press night...

 
 
Harley Granville Barker
Harley Granville Barker was born in 1877. He was married twice, first to the actress Lillah McCarthy and later to the heiress Helen Huntington.  He had no children.  He made his acting debut acting at the age of 14 and continued working as an actor, playing Richard II at the age of 22 in William Poel’s 1899 production for the Elizabethan Stage Society.
 
That same year he wrote his first play, The Marrying of Ann Leete, which was performed by the Stage Society. It has since been revived at the RSC and the Orange Tree. His next play The Voysey Inheritance was premiered in 1905 at the Court Theatre (now the Royal Court) as part of his three seasons there co-produced by J E Vedrenne (1904-07). Waste was banned by the Lord Chamberlain in 1907 and did not reach the London stage until 1936. Granville Barker’s other plays are The Madras House, His Majesty, The Secret Life, Rococo, Vote by Ballet, and Farewell to the Theatre.
 
Granville Barker directed the majority of the 37 plays presented at the Court Vedrenne-Barker seasons, and continued with his visionary productions of Shakespeare at the Savoy from 1912 - 1914. He is widely regarded as the first great British theatre director.
 
His 1907 pamphlet Scheme and Estimates for a National Theatre, co-written with William Archer, was the first detailed plan for a British national theatre.
 
Later in life Granville Barker left the theatre and worked as a lecturer at Cambridge, Oxford, Yale and Harvard.  His hugely influential Prefaces to Shakespeare were published between 1927 and 1948.
 
Harley Granville Barker died in Paris in 1946.
 
 
Arts Council England ASP Group