I’m writing this with slightly aching legs, core and shoulders, having just finished our daily rehearsal warm-up – something the cast do every morning (usually with the directing and stage management teams joining in!). Every rehearsal room has its own individual routine (whether it’s a morning band-call or warm-up games), and ours currently consists of: 48 lunges, 36 press-ups, 24 squats, and a total of 5 minutes in plank position, so we’re shaping up to be a well-toned company!
It’s occurred to me this past week that – whilst I’ve worked on some quite unusual shows in the past – The Man With The Hammer is the first play I’ve worked on (and possibly the first I’ve ever seen) where the cast are effectively clipped into the set for the duration of the play. Even after three weeks of rehearsals, it’s still fascinating to watch arguments, confessions, apologies and reconciliations being played out by people sat beside each other, pedaling on static bikes.
This is, of course, all tied into the show’s unique design and set-up. It’s been really interesting to see what new things come out of the onstage cycling with each rehearsal: as we get to know the characters, their relationships and lives more, their cycling comes to represent such a deeper and wider range of things: a slow, focused pedaling can become a long, gradual period of emotional recovery; fast and frantic can expose someone’s desperation; two people’s cycling falling out of sync catches your eye and reveals the distance between them.
We’ve also had our composer, Martin, present in rehearsals a lot this week. As it happens, he’s here right now playing some of the music for the show and it’s a little hard to not be swept away by it and keep writing! It’s not always possible to have members of the creative team in rehearsals as they can often be working on multiple shows at once, so it’s been brilliant to have the opportunity to develop the show’s sound and performances in tandem (no cycling pun intended!). It’s particularly valuable since the show’s design isn’t focused on recreating literal places, sounds and images that everyone has matching versions of, but is largely more about creating the feeling or atmosphere of a moment or space.
It’s not long now before we get to feel the effects of the show’s lighting, set and costume design too – whilst we’ve seen elements of each of these on their own (from the model box for the production’s set to the costume fitting earlier this week), it’s always exciting to see how they all work together and amplify what’s already been created in the rehearsal room. Having spent the last few weeks getting inside the characters’ headspace, I can’t wait to see and hear what it’s actually like in there.
The Man With The Hammer will be in The Drum from Thursday 10th to Saturday 26th March. You can book your tickets online or by calling our Box Office on 01752 267222.