The Monstrous Heart: Jordan Blackwood’s Assistant Director Blog #3

News 27 Sep 2019

Assistant Director Jordan Blackwood and Elsie the Bear co-write this week's rehearsal blog and delve deeper into the world of The Monstrous Heart. They even enlist the help of an original Canadian whisky from Shelter Point Distillery to get into the spirit of the play.

[3 minute read]

Elsie, checking in.

Elsie here.

There’s a change in the air. The humans have been moving around me a lot more and staring less at their bundles of white paper. Some new people have been admiring me, I’ll never get tired of the attention. One of them keep prodding me, I’m keeping my eyes on her.

I’ve not learned as many fun facts this week, but seriously these humans talk about food, a lot. And they drink coffee, a lot.

They ended the week drinking whisky around me. Thanks for the offer…

Jordan, checking in.

Lines. Words. Beats. Silence.

I’ve been doing lots of line drills with the actors this week and they’re very nearly off book. I’ve been pretty strict on words being slipped; Gareth’s fine-tuning moments where pauses and beats should and shouldn’t be between lines. With this play being a two-hander, both Christine and Charlene have a lot to learn – couple the challenge of switching between short, conversational territory and longer monologues with the fact both characters have repetitive phrases throughout the play, it’s no mean feat. The hard work is paying off, meaning they don’t have scripts in hand on stage anymore – able to explore physicality and lock things in through muscle memory.

We’ve reached decision making point. Revisiting moments that have previously been roughly staged, we’re adding detail and locking in certain moves, looks, beats and choices. As much as the room for play that I mentioned last week is important, there comes a point in every rehearsal process where decisions need to be made – not just so that the actors know what they’re doing, but also so that the wider creative team can shape their ideas further.

I love the collaborative nature of theatre, everyone putting their heads together and working towards one shared outcome. In the same way that we are testing out ideas in staging, the Stage Management and design team are constantly evolving the set, props and costume – responding to the actors and adding detail every step of the way. From the addition of Canadian labelling on the tins and boxes filling the kitchen cupboards (our Assistant Stage Manager Bekah asked a shop in Whistler to send a photo of their shelves for reference) to the development of costume design in response to how the characters are shaping up, this play is coming to life.

As Elsie mentioned, we did indeed finish our week with a well-earned sampling of some Canadian whisky. As hinted last week, Bekah asked Shelter Point Distillery if they could send us an empty bottle to use as a prop – they loved the sound of what we were doing so much that they sent us a full one, for free. It was only right for us to pop it open, have a sip and take a photo around Elsie to send to them. Cheers!

Next week marks our final few days in the rehearsal room. We’ll be moving into running the play as one, playing with sound and packing our bags for Scarborough – is it that time already?

Jordan Blackwood, Assistant Director

Supported by a Federation of Scottish Theatre Assistant Director Bursary with funding from Creative Scotland.

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