For the last couple of weeks the office at Entelechy Arts has, once again, disguised itself as a rehearsal studio as members of our elder’s company prepare for a revival of their live art performance ‘Bed’ for Southbank Centre’s (B)old Festival at the end of the week. My desk is littered with revised and revised, revised rehearsal calls.
As a young theatre student I performed in a play staged by a visiting director. Before the start of rehearsals he made a speech about commitment. We were asked to leave all of our day to day pre-occupations outside of his rehearsal room: we had to commit ourselves, surrender ourselves, to the rigour of the empty space.
I have actively sought to ignore this advice for all my working life. If taken I’d probably have spent a great deal of time sitting alone in empty studios. For theatre and the arts to have a meaningful relationship with community it surely has to enter into a constant process of negotiation and renegotiation with the experience of the everyday.
Hence the constantly re-written rehearsal calls for ‘Bed’. People have hospital appointments, grandchildren suddenly get ill and need to be looked after, plumbers have to be waited in for. People fall down stairs, experience bereavement, need longer than anticipated recovery periods from surgery. All ordinary, everyday stuff for people living in the communities within which we work.
It’s a two-way process. Jacqui Channing-Hamon one of the choir members who will also be performing in the (B)old Festival says of her choir rehearsal days at Meet Me: ‘I look forward to my Tuesdays like you never know how. I say to the doctors, the hospitals, whoever’s doing the appointments: “I’m sorry I can’t have that date, it’s a Tuesday…I can’t have an appointment on that date.” That’s how much it means.’
Within these carefully negotiated moments in people’s day to day lives, the extra-ordinary process of making theatre transforms itself miraculously into the ordinary; ordinary amongst the litany of all of the other things that give meaning and value to our lives.
BED is performing at Southbank Centre’s (B)old Festival on Sat 19 and Sun 20 May
More details here