Assistant director on Punk Rock, Patsy Hughes writes about the third week of rehearsals where an energy and attitude to the production is building.
Rehearsals are always an extremely exciting time for every theatre production but Punk Rock is exploding with energy in the room this week. Simon Stephens' writing clearly inspires a particular anarchic vibe and attitude which this production is now taking to the extremes.
Inspired by Simon Stephens' soundtrack to the Punk Rock script and led by artistic director of multi-award winning company Siren Productions based in Dublin, Selina Cartmell, this week’s rehearsals have included work on developing a physical language which embodies the sixth-formers' daily lives. Kerosene by Big Black illustrates perfectly the world which, through artistic collaboration, we are currently achieving. Powerfully frightening in its blend of nihilism and violent thoughts, it lyrically and musically encompasses the essence of teenage boredom and social alienation.
Internationally recognised choreographer David Bolger, is currently exploring and developing methods of achieving this sense of both estrangement and affection, which teenagers often engage with, in the Punk Rock rehearsal room. The movement work so far has been explosive, reactive and fully energised. Embracing a selection of dance genres as a creative device, David’s work demonstrates and articulates character’s stories and emotions with a sense of fun, danger and poignancy. His stunning choreography can be seen in the dance film Hit and Run.
The anarchic theme of Punk Rock has been further explored this week during sessions with Equity’s first female fight director, Alison de Burgh. Whilst ensuring our fight choreography is rehearsed in a safe and controlled environment, Alison brings a vibrant energy to the rehearsal room and is currently working with the cast to realistically achieve a very real and often threatening environment of the school’s classroom physically. Her fearless commitment to accurately represent aggressive confrontations are resulting in what is a very real and engaging experience. Watch interview with Alison working on a different production last year – The Fight Club Experience.
Directing for the first time at the Lyric Theatre, Selina Cartmell is currently rehearsing the scenes of Simon’s play with both bravery and subtlety. She emphasises that “Simon has written a bold, visceral and fearless play that makes you feel alive” and her exceptional understanding of Simons’ language is evident throughout rehearsals in her attention to detail, textual insight and often playful process that has led to a highly creative and energetic rehearsal room. Her daring and courageous approach can be seen here in the heartbreakingly intense production of Medea.
Selina's focus during this, our third, week of rehearsals has been to challenge the cast to identify and explore emotionally and physically what is needed to fully embody a seventeen-year-old. To develop an understanding of the characters’ individual insecurities and vulnerabilities, cast have also explored and developed character video diaries and self-portraits.
Understanding a teenager’s self-image, i.e. the mental picture, that depicts both objective details and internalised judgements, is a vital element for cast members to understand in order to fully engage with their characters. Important character questions which continuously re-appear in the rehearsal room are: How does my character view him/herself? How does my character think his/her peers view him/herself? Keep an eye onhttps://twitter.com/LyricBelfast for more rehearsal room insights.
Punk Rock’s continued commitment to challenge the entire company on a daily basis will no doubt lead to what will be an extremely vitalised and compelling production. And if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a taste for what you’ll be in for Punk Rock trailer.
Punk Rock previews from Sun 10 August and runs until 6 September. Tickets from £10 - £24.50.Student tickets just £10 throughout the run.