5 July 2016 •
Diary of a Madman Rehearsals: Week 1When Lynette (the very lovely Associate Director of the Gate Theatre) dropped me an email asking if I’d be willing to blog about the rehearsal process for the upcoming production of Al Smith's (brilliant) adaptation of Diary of a Madman, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. When I sat down to put fingers to keyboard, I almost had second thoughts - what on Earth was I going to talk about?! After briefly slipping down a rabbit hole of theatre blogs (for research obviously) I just decided to dive in and hope for the best (which is effectively the opposite of my approach to life).
I like to think of myself as punctual and prepared but it's been a couple of years since I've lived in London (I defected to Birmingham around the time I fled a legal career) and I had somehow forgotten to prepare for the zombie exodus that takes place on the underground each morning. The result: I turned up for my first day as assistant director feeling a bit like I'd just done all four seasons of the Wolf Run. Thankfully, TFL doesn't discriminate and I wasn't the only person caught in the morning apocalypse. Despite the uniquely 'London' commute, rehearsals began in much the usual fashion: a read-through, model box viewing, production meeting…
As we jumped into table work and with the outcome of the EU referendum at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it quickly became apparent that Al’s words carried a different weight than they did just last week. From the outset, Chris (the Artistic Director of the Gate and our glorious leader in this endeavour) encouraged a collaborative approach to rehearsals, prompting an easy, conversational atmosphere. This allowed scope for the fluctuating fallout of the referendum to feed into rehearsals, creating a refreshing immediacy. In this way, the play began absorbing the ever-changing political landscape.
Excitingly, just as time disintegrates in the play, it feels like we too are playing fast and loose with the time-space continuum; rehearsing a play that’s set in the future so it can be performed in the present makes for an almost prescient process.
It’s my first time working with Chris - my first time working with the Gate. I’m not sure what I was expecting from the process but it’s been fascinating to see how the script has developed in just a week. No two days have been the same and that’s something I love about theatre. I cannot wait to see this play start to take shape on its feet next week!
Catch the previews of Diary of a Madman here at the Gate Theatre, 28th-30th July.