Ah March. The gentle waft of hot cross buns belies the fact that Easter is still more than a month away!
Those wonderfully Bad Jews have packed up their Upper East Side apartment and the WLT stage has returned to its blank state. Construction on the set of When I Was Five is now well under way.
For those who have never been part of a theatre production, I thought I would tell you about a part of the process that you may not know about – the first read-through*. Before rehearsals kick off, the cast and crew gather for an initial read through of the text from start to finish. We had the first read-through for When I Was Five a couple of weeks ago – and it was a terrific occasion.
The first read-through serves several purposes. For the actors, it’s a chance to meet your cast-mates – which can be something of a reunion for those who have worked together before, or a ‘getting to know you’ exercise for those who have not. A really common feeling for the actors is one of “These people are all so good! What am I doing here?!” It can be quite daunting meeting cast-mates for the first time, especially those whose work you’ve admired from the audience in the past.
For the director, it’s a chance to get a feel for the work that needs to be done – hearing each actor read is very different to watching auditions - so it’s a great chance to make some notes about the journey that cast members will need to take to get to the final product. It’s also an opportunity for the director to talk a bit about what he/she expects of the cast and crew,and the work ethic expected throughout the process.
For the designers, it’s a chance to hear the text read out loud and to get a sense as to what’s in front of them. The Costume Designer will be there taking measurements and thinking about style and the colour palette. The Set Designer will be there wondering how that many people will fit onto the stage at the same time or how to move from a suburban loungeroom to a Turkish steambath in less than a minute. The Stage Manager will be wondering why he/she agreed to be part of such a prop-heavy show…..
It’s also a great opportunity for the company to welcome everyone and set out our expectations of those involved.
The first read-through is always an exciting time tinged with more than a little trepidation. They’re an important first step in a journey that will keep everyone very busy for the next three months.
The read through for WIW5 (as we know it) went extremely well – we can’t wait to bring you the final product – after Easter!
See you in the foyer!
Editor Note: * See several photos above from the When I Was Five first read-through, hosted by Peter Newling.