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    December 10, 2011
  • Blog: Uncovering The Faction #2

    The Faction Theatre Company embark on table work. Gareth embarks on Bikram Yoga and Hummus.

    Blog: Uncovering The Faction #2

    Gareth Fordred is a founding member of the faction theatre co. In the 2012 Rep Season he is playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Leicester in Mary Stuart and a reveller in Miss Julie.

    Uncovering The Faction #2: Greed

    mouth-watering chickpea ambrosia’

    I was reprimanded last week (by myself admittedly) for being too frivolous with this blog thingy and will attempt to make them very sensible from now on. Very sensible.
    So…the way the faction theatre co work:
    Before we start working properly on acting stuff, we have a weekend before rehearsals proper start where we do ‘table work’, rarely involving said four-legged furniture items, but plenty of coffee and maybe even some pastries if Mark (Artistic Director/Kunst Führer – it’s alright to call him this because he is actually German and therefore this is ‘culturally accurate trivia’ rather than ‘racist’ per se) is feeling flush or kind.

    A gaggle of assorted strangers, near-strangers, associates and faction family members gather in a living room or rehearsal room. I personally prefer the living room for ‘table work’. There is usually a more reliable stream of coffee and the aforementioned confectionery pastry items.

    Incidentally, I once worked with an actor who was also a trained pastry chef. Surely a minority in this business? And he was not as forthcoming with the flaky delicacies, I am sad to say, as one would like to imagine.

    Table Work (noun)
    1. breaking down of a dramatic text, consisting of discussion and negotiation of all possibilities implied thereby; at times heated as people gradually forget to be polite – about what it all ‘bloody well means’

    Jogging update – I slacked off this week, I’ll be honest. So shoot me. I was however moving into a new house and finding my feet in London town again. After a 14 month time gap since I was last a resident, its all got quite nostalgic. Dear, dear London town. Honestly, these arid tear ducts nearly squeezed one out when I saw my first London Underground sign (update: this has changed vastly in a matter of days due to my now over-familiarity with the Piccadilly Line and all minions thereof). I managed to go yesterday once round a local park, not for very long. To balance this – I did however, join a yoga studio. I am now a proud holder of a Bikram Yoga membership thingy. If you haven’t heard of this ultimate Sloane-ranger get-fit phenomenon, get a friend to explain or maybe consider coming out from underneath your stone more often.

    Anyway, back to table work:
    The main thing is – we attempt to look at the play as if we are coming to it for the first time, which is tricky, necessitating many sentences starting with ‘I know we haven’t got there yet, but…’ or ‘come on, I know we’re not on that bit, but just let me finish!…’ I always think this stage is pretty invaluable and it amazes me how seldom I work with companies that do it. When you’re working with a classical text written in excess of 400 years ago, then you’d think it should be essential. I’ve worked for months with actors who halfway through a tour will honestly say ‘so what does this word mean?’ I tell you. The lovely thing about this is that it really allows everyone to contribute. Gradually one by one people realise that their ideas are not being shot down, but are being actively welcomed and discussed. Which is great. And you realise how much of a different view point other people have – rather useful really.

    So you have this amazing melting pot of 12+ peoples’ ideas, which must by definition be richer than just your ideas on their own. People have a habit of constantly saying stuff I just hadn’t thought of. Stuff that hadn’t even entered my radar. And you end up with this shared world which you negotiate together. There is also a week gap between this weekend of script breakdown and the start of rehearsals proper, so you get time for it all to gestate in your head. And that’s important, I think. I know I need that time for it all to filter through and for those spontaneous ideas that come to you on the train platform, or on the bog, or on a jog where you suddenly have a flash of that all-too-seldom inspiration stuff. And then it finally builds up to that first day. We’re rehearsing at the Bridewell Theatre. In the basement. Which means we’re none of us going to get a shred of sunlight and will all be SAD-afflicted, milky skinned wan creatures by the time we emerge from our cave into tech week.

    The Bridewell is a nice place to rehearse, and we use it often. I like strolling down past the Royal Courts of Justice (thinking: one day I’ll be there, probably not in a good context). Watching the law donkeys pushing their cart-loads of case materials in the wake of high-powered legal types. Amazing character research for high-status Elizabethan royal court animals.

    On a totally different tangent, I have invested in a mini-blender and am now making my own hummus.

    Gallons of the creamy, gorgeous, mouth-watering chickpea ambrosia.
    Hummus recipe:
    Chickpeas – one can
    Tahini – 1 dessert spoon
    Garlic – one clove
    Oil – 5 dessert spoons
    Lemon juice – 5 dessert spoons
    Salt and pepper to taste
    (The author is not responsible for any of the above quantities’ accuracy)

    - GF

    The Faction’s Rep Season opens @ The New Diorama Theatre, NW1 3BF
    Jan 6th – Feb 18th a cast of 11 perform Twelfth Night, Mary Stuart and Miss Julie
    Visit www.thefaction.org.uk for times and tickets

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