DruidO’Casey: Rehearsal Diary 1
Associate Director Sarah Baxter’s diary from Weeks 1 and 2 of DruidO’Casey rehearsals
5 May 2023
Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Putting a play on is a mammoth effort, a collaboration between many talents and skills of different departments. A lot of work begins before rehearsals start but there is a real sense of occasion on that first day when the whole team, all involved in making and presenting this production, gather to hear the plays being read. There are also plenty of nerves. No matter how many shows I have worked on, the first day of rehearsal always feels like the first day of school.
That initial read-through of the plays took two days (I promise we’ll have got it down to one day if you’ve bought a trilogy ticket). Then the room was left to the actors, creative team and stage management and we continued reading through the plays for the rest of the first week, but at a slower pace. A pace that allowed us to discuss scenes, characters, the worlds of the plays, the setting and time period, the history, and the life and work of Sean O’Casey himself. It’s a great time when you get to gather all the collective knowledge of the group and gain insight into first impressions or ideas people have.
In the first week we had a design presentation where Francis (Francis O’Connor, Set and Costume Design) and Clíodhna (Clíodhna Hallissey, Co-Costume Design) shared with us the model box of the set for each play (a scaled miniature 3D model) and sketches and image inspirations for costumes. Between that and the rehearsal versions of the set, costumes and props in the room, we have a strong imitation of the world of each play that can be more fully explored in rehearsals.
We don’t stop the conversing begun in week 1, but now the conversations tend to come out of the playing – or on a tea break, when all the answers seem to come easily until you go back in the room and try them out! And sometimes we stop and we re-read a scene or act of a play again, making sure that we were staying connected to the text. In the past two weeks, we have also had music sessions and costume fittings and all the other ongoing activity that happens during rehearsals.
Each department is busy working on their own work but in constant communication with one another as everything is intertwined. Departments keep in communication throughout the day as needed but we also receive a daily rehearsal report by email and bi-weekly production meetings where all departments can brief and update one another.
It’s one of the things I enjoy most about working in theatre, the individual responsibility and skill working towards a collective effort. And for a project like this, of this size and ambition, collaboration is key.
Images by Ste Murray