This blog by Becky Morris
For 11 months, we had been imagining what May 2016 would look like. Every step of every day during the rehearsal process, involved projecting forward to this almost mythical point in time. It existed on calendars; in diaries; in print on the leaflets that the Nottingham Theatre Royal had dropped everywhere; on posters outside the theatre; in annual leave booking forms; and in our rehearsal schedules. But a date isn’t actually tangible; we knew we were going to perform our opening night on the 3rd May – that much is fact – but the date itself took on almost fictional proportions. We didn’t know what May would look like. And we were about to find out.
The juggernaut of #Dream2016 had been rolling for a few months, and the tech team, cast and crew were, by now, well versed in the act of putting on this show. We would be the 10th Mechanicals group to perform, and the 8th on the road, so it was second nature to them. To us? Less so.
It all started in earnest, as we had been advised, the week before. On the 27th April, our intensive rehearsals began in the Len Maynard Suite at the Theatre Royal – the very room where we had been finally cast on the 6th June the year before.
Kim Sykes and Lindsey Knight – our director and stage manager – rocked up and tore it down. Having thought that I was a bit of a grafter and a hard worker in the past, I was not expecting how this would actually roll.
Our rehearsals for the evenings were called for 4 hours: 6pm-10pm. This, in itself, doesn’t sound too much, but this was Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on days where I started work at 07:30am. So, I would finish work at around 4pm, pick up the smallboy from childcare, drop him off in other childcare and get on a tram to Nottingham for a 6pm start.
The intensity and drive of these rehearsals was unsurpassed in my life. How professional actors do this all the time, I just don’t know. I think it was more marked for me, playing Bottom, as I had the lion’s share of the lines (bit of a Mechanicals Dream pun there!) Someone had pointed out previously that Bottom has the most lines in the whole play – I read the figure of 12% of the total. It certainly felt like that in the rehearsals, because when you ONLY rehearse the scenes that you are in, over and over, there is no respite and no break. But it worked. My goodness did it work. Following these sessions, (and bearing in mind the rest of the year’s training) I came out the other side feeling like a different performer. I was ready.
Saturday saw us in a full day rehearsal from 9am until late at night, and then we had Sunday to get our heads around things.
The love of the project and the adrenaline certainly kept me going, because I look back now and wonder how I was still awake on Saturday night.
Monday was a bank holiday, so there was a festival feeling as James McBride and i stepped off the tram outside the theatre at 08:30 in the morning. At the side of the stage door, we saw the trucks unloading our set. We saw the boxes containing our props and costumes and we turned into groupies watching the crates move from one room to the stage.
Dream had arrived in Nottingham!