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 #4: Stress
‘‘Christmas day as a time for line-learning’
Stress is a big thing nowadays. We spend a lot of money as a nation de-stressing. Gym memberships for sauna and steam, massage and spa days.
Today, I freely confess, I am feeling the stress.
I have said many things that are out of character. You know when you hear words coming out of your mouth like in an ACME cartoon, floating away? You can’t scrabble fast enough to gather them back in…
Mark (our director) gave a speech at the start of this week (Week 3) of rehearsals, dubbing it ‘panic week’.
Usually there is a sort of rough graph that can be drawn for the arc of a rehearsal process. Week 1 is finding your feet and finding out how people take their tea, you get up to speed and start discovering and making breakthroughs by about Week 2. But when Week 3 rears its ugly head a sort of slump in progress can be felt. People can fall into despair and panic – hence ‘panic week’.
As mentioned, today the stress hits me.
I think rehearsals at this time of year are especially hectic. Not only are you trying to get off book, and absorb the rehearsal process, but also you have to combat the usual merry-go-round of Christmas social engagements. That ‘spare time’ that you were optimistically pencilling in to learn that extra scene has now mysteriously vanished into the ether, replaced by family dinners, work parties, social functions and seeing all of the people you’ve been promising to see for the last 11 months.
It’s sad indictment of our profession when you’re looking forward to Christmas Day as an opportunity for line-learning.
Don’t worry. I don’t think my life has become quite that desperate, but the thought has definitely crossed my mind. It’s such a shame that alcohol usually negates memory retention. It would be very useful to be able to go out for a Christmas tipple and to also be able to learn that soliloquy perfectly on the train home.
London Transport – a curse at the best of times – is actually my hidden saviour when it comes to line learning. Crushed into the aromatic body crevices of strangers in a commuter crammed train carriage is amazing impetus for line learning. You hardly need any stimulation to try and magic yourself away from the sweat and claustrophobia into the world of a play. However, it does make you seem automatically mad. But then, handily, a lot of other people appear pretty bonkers on the Underground. There isn’t the distance that going for a walk creates between you and passers-by that could give you the benefit of the doubt and perhaps think you’re talking on a hands free mobile set. No, in the intimacy of the Underground you are clearly 100% a nut job.
Rehearsal Room Quote of the week – working on Miss Julie – one ensemble member managed to fit an Ali G “m’Julie” into the text discussion.
I can’t remember the last time I heard Ali G quoted. Maybe not un-ironically since 2004, perhaps?
This is definitely the fastest pace I have ever worked at on a Faction show. Not surprisingly so, when working on two plays at the same time. Now three plays really, but I’m doing an ostrich impression and pretending that isn’t happening.
We are literally hurtling through the days, and I am desperately trying to write this whilst keeping one ear out for my cue, in case they’ve decided to go back on something.
It’s developing into an interesting skill, having this actor split-personality ability to balance more than one show.
And the thing is… there is a real sense of working on something special. With some very fine actors. And the vision for the worlds we have created is very interesting. So I know they’ll all be fine.
It’s that ability to go with a wing and a prayer that’s an acting prerequisite, and just tell yourself to hang on. Hang on in there and it will be fine.
Now: I just need to find some WD40 for a set of antique leg callipers over the Xmas break…
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