Faithful Ruslan: The Diary of an Assistant Director - week two
Assistant Director George Nichols shares all the latest news from the Faithful Ruslanrehearsal room in his second blog. This week they've looked at the complexities of staging a play from a dog's point of view and how a ‘physical language’ is being created for the actors.
In the second week, you quickly learn that progress in terms of pages is not necessarily the most important thing; particularly in a production like Faithful Ruslan. On some afternoons you can get through a significant chunk of the play, but the satisfaction you feel from this pales in comparison to the satisfaction felt when progress is made in regard to creating an understandable on stage language. Progress like this has ramifications throughout the rest of the process. It goes without saying that a play told from the point of view of an animal presents some challenges in terms of staging, that’s why some of the best moments of this weeks rehearsals were when text, physicality and sound married together perfectly to create a visceral insight into the world of Ruslan.
Of course, progress was made with regards to the script too, and every day we get nearer to being able to do a full run. One of the exciting, but also challenging, aspects of working on a production of this kind is that as the play constantly changes so do the production elements that go with it. The rehearsal room is a kind of document in itself, as the props brought in by our wonderful stage management team reflect where the production has been at different points over the last fortnight. The room is strewn with various army jackets, boxes, suitcases, buckets and even a peculiar leather dog mask.
Much of this week’s time has been spent on structuring the big choral moments of the first half of the play. The cast create many aspects of the play, and so a lot of time is spent working out the best way to create a tractor on stage, or a train, or a market place. This requires constant ingenuity from both the cast as well as Helena (Director) and Marcello (Movement Director). The actors have to be constantly aware, and continue to do sessions every morning with Marcello to develop their understanding and coordination. Going into the next few weeks this will be vital, so time is saved by the cast having a collective understanding of the world they inhabit so decisions can be made collectively, without too much hesitation.