Every good farce has at least one scene which hinges on perfectly timed slapstick.In “One Man, Two Guvnors” it’s Act One, Scene Four – which was the focus of our rehearsal on Monday 16th September.
The physicality has to be immaculate, and the jokes won’t work unless the whole cast works in harmony. Incorporating mistaken identity, doors slamming and opening simultaneously, pratfalls, asides to the audience and plenty of interaction on and off the stage, this entire episode has to be timed to perfection.Add into that the tour de force that is the main character of this play, Francis Henshall (played by Jacob Hunt-Wheatley), who essentially has a twenty minute monologue in this scene which is constantly interrupted by the other characters, and what we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is – A CHALLENGE!
So, how do we do it?
Step One: We are “off book”. This means that our cast have learned their lines and this makes the physical scenes much easier to rehearse. We can try things and see how things look, confident that the cast know exactly what’s going on without having to keep reading and checking
Step Two: Our props team are brilliant. Everything we need is everywhere it should be. This is vital in slapstick, as this is about the harmony between all aspects of stagecraft.
Step Three: Our directing team know everything that’s going on, in every line. This means that every nuance and bit of timing can be accounted for, and adapted. The planning required for this is supreme, but it really pays off
Step Four Our actors are committed, passionate and wholly in the world of the play.
When all of these components come together, we know that we are in the best place to try, fail, try, perfect, try, rehearse and create something superb.
The physicality is key in this scene, so how do we make this work?It’s about firstly warming up physically and vocally, and then planning what is going to work, as a tight piece of choreography. Once this is in play, we can start to improvise around it, and the fun really begins – the trial and error of just trying things out and seeing what works (as well as pushing ourselves to our limits and then slightly beyond) is something that has really elevated our rehearsal process. And we have discovered that we can only do this playing and improvising (in true commedia dell’arte style) once we have designed and learned our choreography and direction. The combination of these two techniques has proven vital to our process.
To come and see how this brilliantly funny scene fits into the rest of the play, grab your tickets from https://seaty.co.uk/lovelaceoct19/ and treat yourself to an incredible night out.