Youth company rehearse Oedipus the King


Desmond Eastwood, from Lisburn, Co Antrim is one of 11 teenagers taking part in the Lyric Summer School’s production of Oedipus The King which runs from 10-11 August.

Monday 23 July – The Lyric Summer School began. The day started at the Lyric café where the cast members got to know each other while enjoying coffee and croissants. We were then re-introduced to Director Philip Crawford and assistant Director Georgina Ross. This was followed by a tour of the Lyric Theatre, which was extremely enjoyable as each cast member could appreciate what magnificent facilities are at our disposal.  The group then began work in the rehearsal room which involved several team-building exercises and a question and answer exercise which allowed for closer friendships within the cast.  After enjoying lunch in the infamous ‘Green room’ the cast carried out a full read-through of the script. This allowed everyone to grasp a greater understanding of the script and of its contemporary twist. We then had a first rehearsal of episode one which was extremely enjoyable and gave me my first taste of theatre work. Towards the end of the day the group worked on some character analysis which was extremely interesting and fulfilling.

Tuesday – We started the day in the café where we were introduced to the majority of the Lyric Theatre’s staff and managers. This gave the group a greater sense of importance and a further determination to perform a good show. We then carried out another read-through with staff and managers of the Lyric. At first, I perhaps felt slightly uncomfortable in the large rehearsal room surrounded by the staff, but my mind was quickly set at ease with the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. This led us into some vocal work and stretches which was very enlightening and enjoyable. After lunch the cast attempted to carry out episode 1 + 2 which again was very enjoyable and allowed the group to begin to feel more comfortable with their roles and responsibilities.  After the two episodes, the set designer Stuart Marshall came into the rehearsal room and showed us the proposed set for the play.  His inspiration for the set came from the Berlin Museum and it was clear the desire of the set was to maintain an ancient feel but with a modern and contemporary look.  The set looked great and gave a greater sense of anticipation for the cast.

Wednesday – The following day was extremely exciting from the outset as news had spread that leading vocal coach Peter Balance, would be arriving at the Lyric to give the cast a vocal workshop from 2-5pm.  In the morning session the cast went through episode 1 + 2 and it was clear that the rehearsals were flowing better and being performed at a higher standard. The cast also received a visit from costume intern Erin Charteris to have measurements taken.  After lunch the group finally met Peter Balance to work on voice control.  Thanks to Peter’s charisma and through the use of fun packed exercises, the group had an amusing yet informative session. We worked on the projection of voice, forms of breathing, the scientific reasoning and methods to breathing and on how to train our vocal muscles. From having never participated in anything similar to this, I found it extremely interesting, enjoyable and challenging at times.

Thursday – The following day only several of the cast were required before lunch giving the majority of the cast a break. The group was united after lunch for a film acting workshop with Kieran Lagan. This workshop was yet again extremely enjoyable as Kieran was able to involve and encourage the entire cast to achieve an element of unique connection between actor and camera. There was constant emphasis on trying to capture something ‘real’ throughout the workshop.  Each cast member then had a chance to record a piece they had prepared and have it played back to them,  in which Kieran would give pointers and valuable words of wisdom. It was very helpful for everyone to have this workshop as filming was due to take place the following day capturing clips to be used on the actual nights of the show.

Friday – The final day of the week consisted of each cast member being recorded performing their lines in the ‘chorus’ sections of the play. As this was my first real time having anything of significance recorded by camera I was slightly hesitant and nervous. However, yet again there was a comfortable and encouraging atmosphere which allowed me to focus on my lines and portray emotions.  Eventually everyone had completed their pieces by roughly 3pm. It was clear that workshop sessions with Peter and Kieran aided the cast when recording their pieces. We then did more rehearsals of the play which left us on a good platform after just five days.

Monday 30 July –  We started on a fresh block of rehearsals.  In this session stage presence and positioning was the main factor. It’s important for the cast to feel comfortable and confident in regards to their stage position.  This took up the majority of the day but the cast still had time for vocal stretches and body stretching.

Tuesday –  In the morning the cast were involved in another character workshop. This involved creating a story behind your character and expanding upon any motives, beliefs, fears and tendencies which are specific to your role. This was then followed by a short break which led onto the cast rehearsing up to sequence 4 of the play. It was clear by this stage the cast had a more comfortable and determined approach to these rehearsals and it was clear that good progress was being made.  Only three members of the cast were needed after lunch, giving the majority of the cast the rest of the day off.

Wednesday 1 Aug – The cast rehearsed together throughout the morning which allowed for a greater level of confidence and execution amongst the cast.  After lunch Peter Balance returned, having just completed work for National Geographic. In this vocal session Peter focused on each individual cast member, as opposed to a group. This enabled everyone to practice their own specific lines and match those lines with the appropriate form of voice.  This was extremely enjoyable again, and gave everyone a better understanding of what they should strive for in terms of vocal execution.