DruidO’Casey: Rehearsal Diary 2
Assistant Director Katie O'Halloran's diary from Weeks 3 and 4 of DruidO’Casey rehearsals
15 May 2023
“Can we go back and run that again?”
This has been the most frequently asked question in rehearsals over the last few weeks. It is raised by cast and creatives in our rehearsal space with verve and a fierce commitment to mining O’Casey’s beloved plays for new meaning and possibilities. With every request to “go back to the top and run that once more,” there is an eagerness, a hunger and a curiosity about the ways in which we can further probe and explore these scripts.
After thoroughly dissecting all three Dublin plays through table work and then giving each play a physical shape on stage, we’re now able to delve into the details. Specificity is at the forefront of our work on this ambitious production. The more precise we can be in our efforts to uncover the significance of every gesture, phrase, silence and movement across the stage, the closer we get to creating a truthful artistic experience for audiences.
Gathering as many details about these prodigious plays as possible requires all hands on deck. The hallway in our rehearsal space is now populated by pages of research, photographs of Dublin tenements and their occupants, maps of the city from the 1916 Rising through the Irish Civil War, and poetry written during the years in which the plays are set. Understanding this historical context allows us to more truthfully bring O’Casey’s characters and their circumstances to life. The colour, shape, size and dramatic function of props are discussed at length in order to support actors in their embodiment of their characters and to clarify the storytelling. During any given break from rehearsal, cast members converse fervidly about relationships between characters and the intentions driving their dialogue and actions. When the break concludes, we’re able to collectively discuss the ideas that have arisen and put new discoveries to the test through performance.
In many ways, the work of a theatre artist mirrors that of an archaeologist. As a team, we’re constantly trying to unearth gems from the text. The very best discoveries often lead to even more complex questions. The deeper we dig into O’Casey’s text, the more there is to ponder and learn.
O’Casey’s Dublin plays are monumental in terms of scope. The characters he’s crafted are endlessly complex, the dramatic stakes are consistently high and the language possesses a unique richness and musicality that must be thoughtfully sculpted. With so many details to illuminate in this production, it is no wonder that every time someone asks if we “can we go back and run that again,” the request is greeted with an ardent, “yes, please!”
The digging continues.
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Images: Ste Murray / Katie O'Halloran / Ste Murray