A short time in rehearsals…
By Emma Louise Bennett
Rehearsals are in full swing for the forthcoming theatre tour of See How They Run, the first project for the Reduced Height Theatre Company. Warwick Davis, who is the brainchild of the company, is embarking on a unique and bold journey, to present the hilarious farce with a cast made up entirely of short actors. The show, which kicks off in Bromley on February 19th and visits 12 theatres during its 3 month run promises madness and mayhem… and that’s before the tour has even begun! I popped into rehearsals in sunny Bromley to see how the cast were getting on.
I arrive at the Churchill Theatre at approximately 11am. After signing in at the Stage Door I make my way down into the depths of the theatre to the basement where rehearsals for See How They Run are in full swing. I quietly creep into the rehearsal room, hoping not to interrupt the action. Eric Potts, the director of the show, is at the helm in a blue checked shirt, coffee on desk with script and pen in hand. He regularly interjects the action in front of him, giving notes and blocking to the actors. ‘Blocking’ for any non theatrical types, is theatre terminology for the precise movement and positioning of actors on a stage.
Warwick is sat on the sidelines deep in concentration with something on the computer. This isn’t just a regular acting job for Warwick; he’s heavily involved with producing the play as well so has many different things to think about. Suddenly Eric calls something out which brings Warwick’s attention back to the rehearsal room… ‘Warwick, you enter up stage right in a dazed state, without your trousers’. Everyone in the room chuckles and I begin to get an idea about what kind of play this is.
At this early stage in rehearsals, the cast don’t have the luxury of set, costumes and props; they have to imagine all those things are there. There is the odd chair scattered here and there to mark out seats and entrance points but apart from that this rehearsal room is a bare canvas – four walls and no windows!
The behind the scenes team are all sat at the production desk and are absolutely vital to the smooth running of the play. Everyone is concentrating on their own script, all scribbling down notes as the actors rehearse. At this point I notice the vast array of M & S mini bites and goodies which adorn the production table…
My attention is brought back to the stage again as Eric shouts out to one of the actors ‘I’m sorry but I do want you to bang your head on the door at that point’. Anyone listening who didn’t know the context of the play would think that he was mad, but it is quite clear that in this play it is absolutely normal. It’s a play with lots of slapstick!
As the company breaks for lunch, Warwick goes off into a nearby dressing room for a press interview while Eric discusses technical matters with Sam and Kirsty. There’s no rest for some! Warwick just about manages to grab a quick bite to eat before rehearsals kick off again an hour later.
At 2pm, Eric rallies the troops to begin blocking Act 3. He talks about timing, and precision, and structure. The rehearsals carry on into the afternoon, with Eric interjecting sound effects where required, the odd click of the camera from our rehearsal photographer and the rhythmical rustle of papers as everyone turns the page of the script at the same time.
It’s been quite a day. See How They Run is a farce. It’s comic, it’s well written, and it’s larger than life! And it is clear that this group of talented players, all of shorter than average stature, are bringing this dramatic piece of theatre to life quite brilliantly with hilarious characterization, buffoonery, and spot on comic timing. I can’t wait for Opening Night!