The first week of rehearsals has been an exhilarating adventure of discovery. We started the week off at the Nuffield Theatre, where the company gave a reading of the script. It was fantastic to have so many people from our partner venues there as well as the community company. It was incredibly informative to hear the texture of the play beginning to emerge as we were introduced to the Oklahoma accents, as well as the model box by designer Laura Hopkins.
We then returned to London to continue working on the script. We have spent a lot of time talking about the world of the play and understanding the relationships between the world that Steinbeck was documenting and writing about to the parallels that we are currently witnessing in the world today. Some of Abbey's pre-production research was looking into the work of Patrick Kingsley's book The New Odyssey and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson's book Cast Away. Charlotte's book documents the journey of several migrants from various parts of the world, she put us in touch with Majid who features in the first chapter of her book. We skyped Majid, and spoke to him about his passage from Nigeria to Rome where he currently lives. This was a sobering experience to listen to Majid and hear about the realities about such an journey. This opportunity gave the company time to ask questions and understand the life and mind set of someone who has migrated across countries in the hope of survival.
We continued to make our way through Act 1 of the play understanding how we might stage various scenes, and how we will begin to operate and move the set. Matt Regan our music director has been sharing parts of his composition that he has been rehearsing with our actor/musicians. We have heard the opening of the show, and a few songs throughout Act 1, and it is incredibly transformative. There is something very special about hearing all the instruments come together to take you on the journey of the play, and it is only week 1. I can only imagine what it will begin to sound like when we are in the theatre!