Getting Long Day's Journey Into Night ready for opening night

Assistant Director George Nichols reflects on the final few days of Long Day's Journey Into Night rehearsals:

At the time of writing, it is the day of our first preview, after having completed our technical rehearsal and two dress rehearsals. As this will (probably) be my last blog for this production I thought I’d talk about how everything comes together, and talk about some of the work that goes on in the build up to our opening night.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo

The work in the auditorium begins long before the cast and director arrive. While rehearsals are ongoing, the technical staff here set about turning Tom Piper’s design into a reality from technical drawings and of course, the model box. For those that don’t know a model box is a model of the final design but at a 1/25 ratio, so is basically a much smaller version of the set. This allows production team and the company to see what the set will eventually look like. 

Production photography by Tim Morozzo
The set design is complimented by the lighting. While the set design is likely to be fairly final going into rehearsals, the lighting design is more flexible and created in response to not only the set and costume design, but the action too. As Bríd, who  plays Mary Tyrone, noted: you know things are getting serious when the lighting designer is sitting in rehearsals. Lighting is always important, but it has an added significance in Long Day’s Journey because of James Tyrone’s relationship to the electric lights in his house, and also because we know from biographies about O’Neill that he had a particular interest in theatre lighting. Ben Ormerod’s lighting design does an excellent job of working with the set to accentuate important elements of the play. For example, this production plays with who you can see and when, and what members of the family do and don’t hear of each other’s conversations. By highlighting the stairs when someone is sat there, with a murky light, for example, Ben’s design helps us to tell the story of the play.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo
Another element that is built through rehearsals is the sound design. In our team we have Matt Padden, who is working on the atmospheric soundscape in the play, and Claire McKenzie, who is the composer of the music that features in the production. This has been another quite flexible element of the production, and something that we’ve been playing with throughout rehearsals. Even in previews we will be tweaking what you hear when in order to tell the story more effectively. A lot of thinking goes into when the best time to hear a fog horn might be, or which parts of the play have underscoring.

Production photography by Tim Morozzo

These two weeks are when everything comes together, everyone is working through the day and into the night (remind you of anything) in order to make the production the best it can possibly be. As we move away from the technical rehearsal and into the dresses and previews, the focus is once again on the actors. After each run Dominic notes the cast and we work bits in the space, tweaking things ever so slightly and then noting the effect they have on the audience. This work is about subtle changes and little tweaks, in order that all of the different elements of our production may be balanced perfectly.

Until 5 May

Long Day's Journey Into Night is a co-production with HOME Manchester
Supported by Friends of the Citizens
By arrangement with Josef Weinberger Limited