For three days this week, the café space in the building where we rehearse was filled with tiny humans attending a children’s literature festival. The door to the room where the light switches are kept was blocked with dozens of buggies, and none of us could get to the loos without wading through an ocean of toddlers. It was lovely, and they were adorable, and for me they somehow made real the stakes of our plays; plays concerned in part with a father who faces an impossible decision when the gods command that he sacrifice his own daughter.
With our knee-high neighbours going some way to making the plays’ circumstances feel all the more immediate, the rest of the energy we need comes from getting the actors fully away from the table and onto their feet. There is a whole new dynamism in the room. Where the first week allowed us to wrap our heads around the texts by talking through them, the second week saw both Chris and Elayce starting to sketch the productions out physically. There are no “wrong answers” in either room, and both directors encourage the cast to draft and redraft their performances with every attempt; there is a brilliant sense of the scope of possibility afforded to us by both plays.
We have also seen more of the rest of the creative team: our designer Cécile is in and out, and day by day more props arrive for us to work with in the room. There are visits from our musical director and a fight choreographer. I spend a lunchbreak with our sound designer Elena, shut in a cupboard and heavy-breathing into a microphone, for reasons that will become apparent. The myriad elements that make up a production – particularly one of this scale – are rapidly aligning.
There are only six days left until we move out of the rehearsal room and head into tech, and we can expect it to be a frenetic and intense week. By this point though, we’re a real team, united by a common purpose; it’s hard to feel anxious surrounded by such a rigorous and imaginative group of artists. Well, except when Elayce makes us do star jumps. That’s still terrifying.
Don't miss The Iphigenia Quartet at the Gate Theatre, 23rd April – 21st May.