Things have felt a little acrobatic in rehearsals for the war has not yet started this week, with the cast jumping, ducking, spinning and dancing around the space as we’ve begun to link all the play’s scenes together. Even though everything from fake eggs to bags filled with pillows have been launched around the rehearsal room, we’re starting to see the shape the show’s going to take and – even if those sound a little strange out of context! – its different elements are beginning to feel right at home.
A lot of this week’s work has involved devising the transitions from scene to scene; after a couple of weeks of looking at the scenes individually, we’ve started to run larger sections together and get a feel for the performance as a whole. Whilst some productions use blackouts for scene changes, hiding the movement of props, set or performers, we’re using them to help connect the diverse themes and stories within the war has not yet started.
For more traditional plays that have one overarching narrative, a scene change might just mean a little time’s passed, or the characters are in a new setting. The scene changes in the war has not yet started have a lot more work to do, having to link one combination of characters, place, time and event to an entirely new one each time. We’ve tried different variations for certain changes – discovering ones that are more humorous, or more brutal, or more abstract, or more naturalistic – to find out how to transport the audience to entirely new scenes both vividly and smoothly.
It’s been brilliant to explore what we can do without speech (as the transitions don’t include any) and have the chance to see ideas and themes grappled with through arguments, confessions, declarations and protests in the play’s scenes, and then expressed in movement as well. I’ve also become aware of how important the transitions are in giving the audience space to think – with the scenes so packed full of ideas, having time to reflect on them (whilst also watching movement or interactions that echo thoughts from a scene) feels really important.
It’s been wonderful getting to build the show up this week, starting to run longer and longer sequences of scenes and see the separate stories side by side. It’s now only a couple of days before the company begins the final week of rehearsals, with everyone excited to get to grips with the show’s somewhat unusual set and to finally be down in Plymouth!
the war has not yet started opens in The Drum on Thursday 12th May and runs until Saturday 28th May. Tickets are available online or through our Box Office on 01752 267222.