Constance Brown at Warwick Arts Centre

Of course when things get really interesting Blogging has to go out of the window. The ramp-up to open The Cleansing Of Constance Brown was pretty intense even by our standards.

Rehearsal time was squeezed by the need to set-up and practice visual effects and to shop for key props and costumes. William from the Cork Festival arrived on Friday 18th and caught only caught half a run because we were running late. Karen and Ana put some serious hours in over the weekend on props and costumes. Craig and I worked late on Saturday pulling the set and seating bank apart.

On Monday two trips in the 7.5 tonne truck got everything to Warwick Arts Centre. The 6 door version of the set fitted into the studio perfectly with the audience sat in the scene dock looking through the dock doors and down the set, in essence watching from another room. Something in the lighting kit started malfunctioning, fixes were tried, replacements sought. A portion of set cracked Gerard heavily on the head. Andy reported in sick. Setting up took an age. Joseph from the London International Mime Festival had hoped to see a run but in the end just saw the set; a blow he took in commendably good heart. Jan took Andy to hospital and Gerard tagged along to have his head examined. We phoned Gareth Brierly as emergency cover.

By one in the morning, due to a combination of logistics and solidarity six of us were in hospital waiting for Andy to be diagnosed and discharged. Miles from home, exhausted, a friend and colleague out of action, a new show opening in less than 18 hours.

Tuesday we spend wrestling with the lighting kit and teaching Gareth Andy’s part. Andy is clearly not going to be right for this or the next few days. We open the show with two performances on the first night. Considering the terrible build up both go relatively smoothly.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all bring two performances, notes and bits of re-rehearsal, we try to balance improving the show and preserving the performers. Gareth performs heroics zooming back and forth from London to keep things in order there whilst helping us out too. It’s heavy going for him and everyone. The show is intense. The performers have no real let up even when they’re off stage. With the running time varying between 75 and 80 minutes and the turnaround logistics vast there’s little time to relax between runs. Of course the hope is that this great effort is translated on stage into something special and the early signs are good.

Audience feedback trickles in and it’s highly encouraging. We mull it over things people like, things they are less keen on. We mull it over and measure this up against our own feelings. Some things may change when we have a firm grasp of what we currently have. The overriding sense we have is that the show is going down very well and the full-on approach is provoking full-on appreciation.

Saturday had that last-night-of-a-run tug of many family and friends given cursory attention in the bar whilst performers and crew try to de-rig and pack. It’s brilliant that so many people make the effort to come and see the shows, it’s always embarrassing not to be able to give them the attention they deserve afterwards.

A big truck is waiting at the back doors when the show comes down. As soon as everything is in an its roller shutter closed the engine was gunned and off it went, into the night, bound for Vienna.


2 thoughts on “Constance Brown at Warwick Arts Centre

  1. It was brilliant, this show. And was it my misty eyes, or did I notice the appearance of a couple of Simple Maths chairs in there?

  2. Thank You Nick. Your eyes may have been misty but yes, there were two Simple Maths chairs in the show. There would have been a Good and True chair in there as well, but this got trumped by one VIVID were throwing out (very 80s). Those with excellent eyesight and long memories will have seen a chair used in Memoirs of An Amnesiac, Canute the King and Bingo in the House of Babel.

    If this lot wasn’t enough, Gerard, Jake and Bernadette all wear house coats from Of All The People,, Jake also wears a jacket originally seen in Sonic Journey.

    Plenty of marginalia for the obsessives,

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