In September I was absolutely thrilled to be offered an opportunity to work in the professional theatre world. I am interning on Metta Theatre’s latest production Arab Nights, which will be at the Soho Theatre from November 21st. My first task was not an unpleasant one, but an invitation to lunch at Will and Poppy’s house (the directors) to meet the cast and company, and lovely baby Noah. Everyone was very friendly and already I felt that I had learned a huge amount about what it actually takes to put together a production.
Since then I have been kept busy with a number of tasks. One of these was working on a timeline of the events of the Arab Spring (which the play is based around) for the freesheet. The events described in the play are such horrific stories I was convinced they were fiction. It was eye opening to realise that things like virginity testing (described in The River Brides) are real life events.
I was also set to work to find a rehearsal space for the company and given a preferred location and budget. This meant travelling around London to view spaces which has been enormously useful for me to find out what is out there and for how much, for later in my career. I also emailed a few people I knew about doing post show discussions and it was wonderful to get such a positive response about the play and its concept.
Every Monday I attend the company Production meeting, which each time manages to be both frighteningly professional and a lot of fun. Having only directed student productions the idea of having people who would actually do your publicity for you is very exciting. This week I had the task which I have possibly enjoyed the most, which was a ‘text reading’ with one of the three actors. I was daunted by this instruction as I wasn’t sure exactly what a ‘text reading’ was and a Google search did not help much. However when I met the actor I confessed I had never done one before and in fact wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, he admitted he was in exactly the same boat so there was no need for my worries. What we did do was read through the text, with me reading the other characters to check his pronunciation was correct. I have frequently found that a play on the page is not only much less powerful than spoken, but hard to read and almost incomprehensible. To hear Arab Nights read out loud, even in a cursory way really gave me an idea of what the production itself will be like, and how resonant and striking the script is.
We go into rehearsals on Monday so I will spend the weekend sourcing as many shoe boxes as possible (the reason will be revealed when you come to see the play) and I am greatly looking forward to being in the rehearsal room, and seeing how Poppy directs the actors. All in all I am immensely grateful to Metta for giving me this chance to see how a play is formed and also for the wonderful experience that is proving.
Mary Franklin | Friday October 26th 2012