27 May 2014 • by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
In the Rehearsal Room: Idomeneus week oneDeath, War, Survival, but a lot of fun as well.
It’s the first week of rehearsals and we’ve broached big topics: Death, War and Survival, topics that transcend national lines and affect every human being. We've talked about the questions the play asks: What would you do to save your own life? Is one person’s life more important than another's? We've pondered over key thoughts in the play: 'God has prepared a death for all of us', 'the differences between people are not that great, that they can’t live with each other'. This is what I love about working at the Gate: engaging with plays that broach global issues and have far reaching resonance. Idomeneus is one such play.
One question that has stayed with me as I reflect on the week is this: When faced with certain death what lengths would I go to keep living? How disturbing it is to know that my survival instinct and desire to keep living could be so strong that I could do anything to survive! Thankfully I haven't had to face a situation where I feel I'm just about 'hanging on to life' like Idomeneus in this play. I don't live in a place where I have to make decisions purely based on needing to survive so I simply don't know what I'd do, and I sincerely hope that I'm never in a situation where I find out the answer to this question. I'm also acutely aware that right now there are thousands of people living with dangerous situations who definitely know the answer to this question. This play has definitely made me think more about the suffering going on in the world, the many people dying and why we live in a world where war is happening all the time.
It’s not all doom and gloom in the rehearsal room though. Far from it. We’re finding lightness and humour in the play, enjoying the possibilities of how the story can be told and finding interesting perspectives that the actors can use to build their characters. We’ve also found time to bond over a game of 'four square' - always a source of fun and hilarity at the beginning of the day.
Looking back over the week I’m struck by how much we’ve unpacked the story and how much clearer things look. It feels like we’re not far from figuring out some of the major aspects; like who are these people? Why are they telling the story? And how will this be manifested in the playing of each scene? We’re finding useful links between scenes and enjoying the possibilities that the set design gives us. So at the end of week one it feels like we're in a good place. With Ellen's thoughtful and precise direction, this production is looking to be every bit as exciting, deep and resonant as the most powerful piece of theatre out there.