Despite it being the stickiest day of the year so far, Snark rehearsals got off to a pretty cracking start. After a warm up of trying (and, in my case, dismally failing) to learn a magic trick, we kicked off with a thorough reading of the whole poem. As an actor, I’m often keen to rush through this stage and start playing with the text, but today’s read-through and discussion proved invaluable as it helped us unravel the knots of the verse and find the thread of plot that runs through the poem. It certainly gave me a much clearer idea of how our section, ‘The Barrister’s Dream’, fits in to the piece as a whole.
Thankfully, Ellie is never underprepared in the stationery department, because next up was brainstorming. The scroll of paper stretching across the floor was soon crammed with colour-coded notes on how to create a courtroom full of fantastical characters. No idea was too grand or too daft. It was liberating to know that, budget aside, our only limits are the four walls of the vestry where we’ll be performing. A good job then that we had George, our dramaturg, to make sure that we went back to the text to define each moment of action and work out where our favourite ideas could be put to best use.
The next step was to get on our feet and decide on the basic layout of the courtroom and where key moments should take place within it. The audience will play an important role in our section of the poem, which is fortunate as they will also take up most of the space in the vestry. It’s going to be a tight squeeze and we need to make sure that everyone can see as much as possible. This was also an opportune moment to have a little play with a few props and pieces of costume.
Lastly, and crucially, there were lists to make and tasks to assign. Exactly what props would we need? Who wanted to try their hand at making balloon animals? Where could we get a job lot of thimbles? There’s a lot to find, a lot to make, and a lot to do before the next rehearsal when we get down to the exciting business of creating the Snark.