By Siobhan Lynn Brennan, Assistant Director
As the beast from the east descends on Britain, we continue into Monday of our second week of rehearsals for A Streetcar Named Desire.
London shudders under the icy blizzard-esque conditions of winter’s last vengeful hurrah, and we’re all clutching at our Lemsips and exchanging words of wisdom to ward off our dreaded colds.
Yet still the actors more than rise to the challenge of conjuring the thick humidity of a summer in the Deep South. With the steady assistance of voice coach Carter Bellaimey, tones drop effortlessly into a silky Louisiana drawl. Designer Georgia Lowe works with the cast on their costumes, short sleeves and daisy dukes abound.
A real picture of the play is beginning to take shape – the mood board of images that director Chelsea Walker introduced to us on day one slowly comes to life – the bright neon lights of Bourbon Street, jazz music wafting through the streets, dancing and laughter, the New Orleans sky at dusk: an improbable evanescent violet.
On Tuesday we play and re-play with relationships, gradually unearthing versions of Tennessee Williams’ scenes that make the most sense to us, that feel the most true.
Young and not so in control of her limbs, a woman dances with wild, uninhibited abandon. For a fleeting moment carefree joy reigns.
When she opens her eyes there’s smashed plates and spilled alcohol on the floor, stale cake on the table.
There’s something about the combination of dancing and loss that always makes me cry.
Despite tube delays and frozen toes we all make it in to rehearsals on Wednesday, a respite from the biting wind. We look forward to springtime when we’ll be taking the show across the country – we speak of our friends in Bristol, Malvern and Oxford.
We can’t wait for our last week of rehearsals in Southampton, where we’ll get to play with the proper height of the set for the first time. Streetcar will be only the second production ever at their brand new theatre space NST City.
In the afternoon, a watermelon gets hurtled across the room like a bowling ball to much aplomb.
On Thursday, I realize the boys are swiftly becoming poker experts, and as one or the other pops out for costume fittings and other rehearsals, I take their place at the table, carefully laying out each play-by-play of each hand. We all hope at least one person in the audience takes note of our industry.
On Friday, a giant prop element is revealed. It is deemed too giant, but the teddy bear is not giant enough. The appropriate adjustments will be made.
By Saturday the snow in London is melting into slush, some tricky things are yet to be resolved, but others are coming together. We plough on to week three. “And miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep…”