Last week, we ran the whole show for a couple of guests who haven't been involved so far. This was so that we could get some feedback on the flow of the action, and whether it all hangs together.
Their presence certainly added to our nerves but also upped the energy. Thankfully, their criticism was all positive and the comments have been very helpful in pinpointing some of the places where we need to look at the pacing of the scenes. With adapting Dickens the problem is not what to leave in but what we can afford to take out. The descriptions are so rich and the characterisations so detailed that we could just recite the book!
So today, in rehearsal we have been taking the feedback on board and reworking a couple of the longer scenes. Finding the gear changes that follow the characters' thought processes is helpful. It is quite a luxury to have time to do this as we usually only have a couple of hours to rehearse in (one of the challenges of not being able to do this full time!) on our two, weekly sessions.
We have also worked on properly choreographing the section where we show the millworkers at their looms. It is at this point that we have a song; "Poverty Knock" and we have enjoyed singing this as a warm-up at the start of rehearsals.
In the run-through the other night we attempted to fit the singing and movement together. The resultant clash of discordant sounds and flailing limbs was not quite what we had envisaged for that section of the play!
Today we watched the video evidence through our fingers (or at least I did!) and agreed that the sequence should be simplified, choreographed and drilled. So, for the first hour of the session we worked on a new sequence that, hopefully, will capture the essence of manual labour at a steam powered loom, accompanied by characterful and tuneful singing!