Week 2 of rehearsals for The Claim began with finishing our work on clarifying the ‘beats’ – where the temperature in the scene changes. This has allowed us to find the flow through each section. We have decided to call sections 1-5 ‘stages’ to capture the play’s journey through an inevitable, fixed process. We are developing our understanding of the flavor of each stage, and the emotional journey of each character through the piece.
Our process is to read the text slowly, stopping where we think a beat is, naming the beat, reading over that beat again, running on into the next beat - then repeating the process. This structure enables us to agree on a general direction for each section of the script, giving us clarity in terms of meaning and helping the actors to learn the lines. The script is quite circular and repetitive so having beats allows us to structure it more clearly in our minds.
Once we have done this we put each section on its feet. The play exists in an abstracted version of reality. Movement is minimal both to indicate this, but also to support the sparse and detailed style of the script. Mark has an idea for a general shape for the play, and then we find the precise language for each moment in the room with the actors.
Tim has been visiting rehearsals, and we have had some changes to the script. It has been exciting to see how the script has been altered in response to the actors’ work in the room. What we have now is a polished, thoughtful piece, which has gone through three years worth of work, and has received input and feedback from a wide range of voices.
At the beginning of every day we have a check-in. This has become an important way of creating a safe space for us to talk about our experiences of making a piece that investigates the lack of support around those who have experienced trauma. We each have the chance to say anything we would like to in the room. What we share is sometimes about the play and sometimes not. This allows us to start the day in a constructive place, as everyone has been heard and accepted into the space.
A final and crucial aspect of our process to mention is four-square. For those who have not had the pleasure of playing this game, it consists of hitting a ball (in our case a tennis ball) around a pitch of four squares within a larger square, marked on the floor. At risk of making a controversial statement, the game requires little physical skill, but you do need to be mentally front-footed. Starting every day with this game puts the repetitive, fixed, mentally draining nature of the asylum process into our bodies.