Told by an Idiot: Crafting and refining the physicality and narrative

Monday, 16 December 2019

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Rehearsal blog week 5

Week five has been about working in detail, starting and stopping scenes and sequences and really looking for the most economic way to tell the story. The clog dance has been part of the daily warm up routine and both Amalia Vitale (Charlie) and Jerone Marsh-Reid (Stan) practice with the clogs on. Sara Alexander and Nick Haverson play piano and drums correspondingly.

We mostly spend the morning crafting and refining the physicality and also adding or subtracting bits of story. We dedicate the afternoon to tidying up scenes, running newly edited pieces and successively running the whole play.

It is well known that most rehearsal rooms are absolutely “sacred” and private but Paul Hunter, our director, is keen to have an open rehearsal. Amongst the audience are our friends from Theatre Royal Plymouth, Sophie Woolley, from Augmented productions (TBAI’s associate company), Stephen Harper and TBAI’s Jenni Granger, Natasha Bergg and Jen Holton.

Having an audience during rehearsal runs feels healthy, it allows us to see how they respond to the material and actors get used to interacting with them. There is a real sense of nurturing support and community around TBAI and the ensemble gets to know more the wider community of collaborators that surround the company.

Rehearsal runs are programmed from Tuesday to Friday. To take the pressure off, we remind ourselves we are still over a week away from our first performance. Paul introduces the run and explains what props we haven’t got yet (a custodian helmet stands in as a Chicken that we added in the morning), he also announces there will be silent film captions projected onto the curtain, which is an element of the show that will arrive in technical rehearsals next week. Paul shouts them out to both guide the audience and the actors (who have multiple costume changes behind the set).

I’ve been writing a working script which mainly consists of the actions performed onstage and I cross things out as we change things. Devised theatre is reverse engineering and the script comes last. The work in progress script looks like a palimpsest.

At the beginning of the week I found myself almost too attached to certain gags that we had to lose and the edits during week 5 were the hardest ones. By Friday I feel that I have developed a new muscle to let go of things, which feels very zen.

We finish the week feeling very positive and eager to go!


Andrea Cabrera Luna
Assistant Director for ‘The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel’


The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel’ at Unity Theatre, Tue 18 – Sat 22 Feb 2020