CROCODILE FEVER: SHILPA T-HYLAND’S ASSISTANT DIRECTOR BLOG #3

Here’s Assistant Director, Shilpa with all of the rehearsal room goings on from week 3 of Crocodile Fever rehearsals.

Lisa Dwyer Hogg in rehearsals for Crocodile Fever. Image: Lauren McLay

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TAYTO CRISPS

I’ve been down in London over the weekend on another job but as ever Crocodile Fever has been on my mind and following me around, this time in the form of Tayto Crisps (I’ll get to why they’re important in a bit). First spotted in a pub in Soho and later – when speaking with an actor friend from Bangor – I learn that there are two different Taytos companies, one in the Republic of Ireland and one in Northern Ireland.

The gist of the matter as I understand it is that Tayto was founded in 1954 in the Republic of Ireland. In 1956 a new Northern Irish company bought the branding and created ‘Northern Irish Tayto’ who have the rights to selling Tayto in the UK, with the Republic of Ireland Tayto selling to the rest of Europe. Northern Irish Tayto also own Golden Wonder. Stop the press though (well not really as this is old news) supposedly the Republic of Ireland Tayto registered a trademark in the UK of the Mr Tayto logo without the Tayto name so that they could sell a version of Tayto in the UK. Confused? Great.

Now there are even questions over what Brexit will mean to the Tayto v. Tayto selling rights. It’s a complex crisp issue.

Looking into it more on the train home, I discover articles with titles like:

Mr Tayto Suffers Identity Crisis in Bid to Satisfy UK Crisp Lovers (Independent.ie, 2012)

And

Irish Crisp Confusion Hits the UK (Huffington Post, 2012)

And even

Brexit to force Tayto Northern Ireland to stop selling their popular Cheese & Onion Crisps? (Slugger O’Toole, 2017)

Back in the rehearsal room though, our Tayto concerns are more domestic. Spoiler alert – they end up on the floor, all over it. Which is all well and good if you do it once but the floor gets somewhat greasy in the process of repeatedly rehearsing the scene.

The script goes to the publishers on Monday of week 4 so there’s a final lot of script revisions in week 3, followed by a new copy of the script with all the edits made on Friday. The cast are getting off book and each scene is beginning to really take shape. There’s quite a technical feel to the week both text wise and blocking wise. We’re testing the rhythms of the text as well as making sense of it. As we get to know the play better and it’s on its feet, we’re tracking things through: how much have Alannah and Fianna drunk, what do they know about each other at different stages, what keeps them in the room at any given moment, what’s their relationship to religion, what do they think has happened since they last saw each other, and where has that knife gotten to?

Lucianne McEvoy in rehearsals for Crocodile Fever. Image: Lauren McLay

FILLING IN THE BLANKS

We’re continuing to ask questions but also filling in lots of blanks thematically and practically in a way which makes it possible to glimpse the show as it will eventually be.

There’s a rough cut of some sound design from Michael John McCarthy including plenty of Da (played by Sean Kearns) banging for attention from upstairs (a relief to me as I’ve been standing in by banging on the table and shouting in a not very intimidating manner).

At production meetings questions about the set are becoming more and more detailed as ideas from the current blocking need tested for practicality: how deep is the window ledge, where are the plugs, can the toaster really work?

I’m trying to be vague but soon there’s a complicated (and exciting) transition to work on, so Gareth and I created a daunting looking list of everything we think needs to happen. I’m feeling excited to get stuck into making it, but we’ll see how I feel once we’re stuck in the middle of it. And of course, there’s much discussion about props with items beginning to arrive in the room.

We’ve got a chainsaw, a boombox and via a deal with the Tayto factory (in Northern Ireland) a big old tower of Tayto crisps.

Lisa Dwyer Hogg in rehearsals for Crocodile Fever. Image: Lauren McLay

The Assistant Director position for Crocodile Fever is supported by The JMK Trust. Shilpa T-Hyland is a Leverhulme Arts Scholar and recipient of the JMK regional bursary funded by the Leverhulme Trust Arts Scholarships Fund.