Waiting For Godot - Week Two
I know everyone in the rehearsal room falls in love with, and waxes lyrical about, a production as they work on it, but this week has been quite remarkable.
Death and the meaning of life, religion and those who use it to their own ends, slavery, Stephen Lawrence, Diane Abbott and the fleeting nature of happiness were just a few of the topics chewed over. There were pratfalls and word games and Ipad envy too. But most of all there was focus and complete engagement, a little wrench at six each evening as the day drew to a close. For those who know the play, guess which section we called Leaves and Boots?
Monday morning bright and early we start to put it on its feet. Can’t wait. But then I have to, don’t I. That’s what it’s all about. Waiting For Godot.
It felt like Spring in Leeds today. Clear, sunny, and almost warm for the time of year. And in rehearsals, things are looking livelier too. The set box is on display, the stage marked out and the tree is being represented by a broom handle in the very middle of the room. As the actors come off book, we explore more of the movement and physical comedy that sometimes accompanies and sometimes counterpoints Beckett’s inimitable, intricate, interlocking text. Jeffery is working with his hat on most of the time: completely right for Vladimir. Estragon looks to his feet for his focus of activity: he’s developed a very convincing hobble. As always, the challenge is to find and hold onto the arc of the scene, to feel when the pace quickens and when it slows. And most of all there are those lovely silences that Beckett wrote into the text. A silence in which to contemplate, a silence in which to regroup, a silence in which to listen, a silence in which to savour events and the memories of events. Sometimes just plain silence. Tomorrow, more of Didi and Gogo, The Boy gets on his feet and Lucky starts to speak.
Blissful weather and more hard work in the rehearsal room. It’s odd watching the words I’ve read so often coming off the page in Caribbean accents that have been softened by years of living in Britain. It’s not an easy text to memorise, so there are lots of stops and starts and going back over extended passages of quickfire dialogue and of course earning, and then playing, the silences described in the stage directions. Much business with hats and boots, sore feet and dicky prostates.
Guy had a good bash at Lucky’s monologue today and in true Beckett fashion, he and the director teased more and more meaning, comedy and pathos out of a sentence that lasts three pages than the first pass lead me to expect was there. He’s nearly off book with it too. Now that’s dedication. The monologue is more than verbal pyrotechnics, it is a message bursting out of a man who hasn’t been allowed to say what he thinks for a long time. Today the Boy finally stepped onto the playing area too, his character nervous after hearing the roaring and shouting that announced Pozzo’s presence.
Tomorrow it’s costume fittings for some, lines for everyone, an interview with the Big Issue for Jeffery and, joy of joys, Aline is back to work with the actors on their movement. And I’ve got to write 800 words on ‘Why Godot?’. Easy peasy.
Waiting For Godot is at The Old Rep Theatre 13-17 March 2012