Xenophobadelica - Notes from the rehearsal room by Megan Griffith

Xenophobadelica - Notes from the rehearsal room by Megan Griffith


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Hi Everyone!

I’m Megan and I’m privileged enough to be working  as an Assistant Director on Contact’s upcoming show “Xenophobadelica” and I’m going to be blogging to give you guys an insight into the rehearsal process! I am so excited working with and learning from the rest of the creative team, to bring the show alive and grow as a director myself.

Longwinded is my middle name so I’m going to try and break this down into sections to try and contain my overly enthusiastic ramblings to a minimum. Wish me luck…

So, what exactly HAVE we been up to in that big yellow room you ask? Well, I’ll tell you!

Day 1

We began the process by watching the footage of the research and development showing as part of Queer Contact and then all discussed our feelings about the show as it had existed several months earlier. Next was a read through, though not a read through, more like a performance, as for the first time ever in my experience of rehearsals, DawN was already totally off book for day one! Amazing!

After the first run through we then identified the four different persona’s DawN adopts throughout the show to tell her story, an exercise she had done during her period of development with Bryony Kimmings. We then asked DawN pitch these characters for a Hollywood film, pretending ourselves to be cut throat producers, so she really had to get down to the essence of the characters and sell us on them. Following this Rachel asked DawN to draw the characters. At first I didn’t really understand the exercise, but in asking DawN why she had visually expressed things the way she had it identified important attributes we’d perhaps not picked up on before. I’d never used visual reference points in a rehearsal process before, but I found it to be beneficial, especially when we returned to this later. After sectioning the script during a script in hand read through, we drew the different sections and mapped them out on the wall so we could visualise the audience’s journey throughout the piece.

We then identified which different personas carried each section and discussed how to fluidly shift between characters and transitions and subjects and scenes. It is important to recognise that even when doing a non-linear, non-conventional narrative, people’s minds are used to patterns and formulas, so you have to be aware of the rules before you break them.

First days are always strange, although exciting, everyone brings their own insecurities to the room at a point when you don’t fully feel you can reveal them, so it was a nerve wracking experience but one which we got through together and felt closer because of by the end of the day! I feel it’s extremely brave of DawN to offer up her writing, herself as a performer, and her own personal story for the input of others over something she must feel such ownership over!

Day 2

Today we  mapped out the story in terms of a traditional Hollywood screen play to ensure that all the sections were in the correct order. This has reminded me to ensure we keep returning to the audience’s journey. When you are involved with a show, it becomes very easy to take things for granted as you know the material inside out. Therefore it is beneficial to keep returning to these formulas and applying them to the piece to check we haven’t gone off kilter.

Something that surprises and impresses me about both DawN and Rachel is their ability to see the text as fluid and adaptable. I’m really humbled by DawN’s lack of ego, (if they were my words, I fear I would be far more precious!) and inspired by Rachel’s ability to identify when something doesn’t quite fit and needs adapting, rewording or switching with another section.  If we are unable to identify a legitimate function for something then it goes. Simple.  In Rachel I am learning to be inquisitive, subtle and searching, but also to be ruthless in making the artists fight for their work. In doing this you will find out what really matters and be able to trim around anything which could well undermine the power of that. By the end of day 2 the piece has already changed quite substantially, which is exciting!

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