Areet! I’m back again to write an essay, I didn’t realise how much I’d waffled on last week till I saw it on the website, no chill from this assistant director.

Anyway, how was your week? Ours has been immensely focused to the point of headache level concentration but in a good way. Week 2 is blocking week, blocking in this instance meaning working with the actors to figure out where they’re placing themselves in a scene. Well I say placing, this blocking is more what they’re holding, drinking, smoking, fighting, hitting or screaming at. It’s also given Natalie the opportunity to do focused work on each scene again, picking at the bones and all of the research and back stories we’ve connected to each character.

It also means the cast can have longer periods with Natalie to start to sit in their characters. And let me tell you lads, there’s a canny few characters. 37 to be exact (if you include off stage voices), I’ve got a spreadsheet. This means that some of the cast are playing up to 4 characters each. So each actor needs to make clear and concise differentiations between characters, this includes voice, physicality, costume, back story and motivation. It’s A LOT. But the cast are taking everything in their stride, using tips and tricks from movement master Nadia and voice and accent legends Yvonne and Tim to begin to see how that’s gonna work.

Also shout out to ROAD’s Stage management team, Nic and Gabby (plus Richard who has just recovered from Covid, hurrrray) I’ve never seen people move so quickly and source, check, track every single thing in what is a very complicated Rubik’s cube of a play. Absolutely no sweat on this team with approximately 40 billion props and 13 fully furnished sets. They’re class.

So what happens at the end of week 2, after all that blocking, intense character work and props juggling? I’ll tell you, you do your first full run on a Saturday morning in Stage one. This is the moment where you hoy, hoy here meaning lovingly and professionally place, everything back together and hope it makes sense. Now I know ROAD, or at least I thought I did. But seeing it up again and watching the journey made me appreciate the text, the story and the journey in a completely new way. Spoiler, there’s some dark themes in this play, it’s 1987 the working classes have been abandoned and their communities demolished (literally), but as is with any play of true excellence there is as much joy as there is darkness. Natalie said after the run this week “We’re painting a rainbow here, which means you don’t put red and red together” and that’s absolutely it. The truth of the play sits in the juxtaposition of it all, squashed together, living together, surviving together in this stretch of one road.

So there we are at the end of Week 2, next week we’ll be looking at the journey of the piece and the infamous B Story. “What’s a B Story, Natasha!” I hear you excitedly ask. Tune in next week lads, I’ve got a very exciting spreadsheet to tell you about.

P.s It was lovely to meet some more of you at our open rehearsals too, I really loved that you had so many questions. I’ll always try to answer them the best I can and like I said to our group this week, there’s no daft questions. If you want to know something or are unsure of something just ask!

Photo Credit Ⓒ Joanne Coates

Book tickets for Road here.

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