The Monstrous Heart: Jordan Blackwood’s Assistant Director Blog #4

News 2 Oct 2019

Assistant Director Jordan Blackwood reflects on the rehearsal period for The Monstrous Heart and looks ahead to going to Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre to tech and open the show.

[3 minute read]

126 hours of joy.

This week we’ve been all go! We put the play together for the first time; we ran it a few times; we made some tweaks and now we’re all packing our bags to head down to Scarborough to put it on a stage. Where did September go?

Looking back on the past few weeks, it’s amazing to see what’s possible in something like 126 hours. All those hours of questions, discussions, playing and provoking have given us the opportunity to breathe 3D life into Olly’s words. Now, we need a set, lights, sound, costume and, of course, an audience.

Costume sketches for The Monstrous Heart by designer, Cécile Trémolières

This week, our sound designer and composer Oğuz Kaplangi has been bringing his ideas to the room – creating an atmospheric underscore to the play and fine-tuning an element that might take the audience by surprise (you’ll have to come and see us in Scarborough or Edinburgh for that). Bringing these elements into the room give us a stronger sense of how the play will sit as a whole once we open the doors for the first time. Sound is powerful, telling its own story at times and subtly heightening the world around the text at others. Our design transports us to a hilltop cabin in wintery British Columbia, with other elements takings us elsewhere – into the mind of the characters; heightening the tension; adding some drama.

Design inspiration for The Monstrous Heart by designer, Cécile Trémolières

In my first blog, I referred to the play as being a dark rollercoaster ride – and it is definitely that. The challenge that comes with this, and the fact the story is played out (mostly) in real-time is that the tone set from the start of the play has a knock-on impact on everything else. That may seem obvious, but it can be a tricky thing to strike the right balance – getting the emotional level of the first words right, but also ensuring there’s enough of a journey for the actors to go on throughout the play. Running the play a few times in the final days of rehearsal, we’ve been discovering what the balance might be – that will only continue to evolve the more the elements come together and are shared with an audience.

And so, at the end of week four we’re saying goodbye to Govan and taking Elsie on a trip to the seaside. See you soon, Scarborough!

Jordan Blackwood, Assistant Director

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