Previews and press nights – After Electra

Monday, April 13th, 2015 by Tricycle

After Electra cast credit Steve Tanner SMALL

After Electra is now in full swing here at the Tricycle so today we give you the last blog in the series from Assistant Director Phil Bartlett. Haven’t booked yet? Check out the trailer on our website here.

Hello once again! After Electra is now open at the Tricycle Theatre after finishing our run to busy and enthusiastic houses in Plymouth, so I thought I’d update you on how we transferred the production from the rehearsal room into the studio and made sure it was ready for opening night. Following an invaluable final week’s rehearsal on the set at TR2, it was packed into a lorry along with the props and furniture and transported across Plymouth to the theatre. Once installed in the Drum, director Samuel West and I joined the design team there to establish the sequence of lighting and sound effects that would be used throughout the show – much of this had been planned in advance by the brilliant Malcolm Rippeth (Lighting Designer) and Adrienne Quartley (Sound Designer), but until you’re in the performance space with the set, furniture and actors it’s unwise to make any final decisions. There are a number of different bird calls incorporated into the soundtrack, and Sam drew on his own expertise as a birder to ensure the recordings used were of species that might realistically be heard on the Essex coast at the time of year each scene takes place. Twitchers, see how many you can identify!

Technical rehearsals can be a stressful time – if the show isn’t ready or not enough preparation has been done then things can quickly fall apart – but happily our tech sessions ran very smoothly, with Stage Manager Paul on top of things backstage and the creative team working as an efficient unit to ensure we managed to fit in two dress rehearsals before the first preview on Thursday 12th March. Previews are the first time a production is performed in front of an actual paying audience, and with new plays in particular it’s vital to have this opportunity to see how members of the public respond to it in order to then be able to make any necessary tweaks. Writer April de Angelis joined us in Plymouth for the three preview performances, and each afternoon we worked a little on improving or tightening sections – sometimes the dialogue, sometimes the staging – based on our experience of the previous night’s performance. We were pleased to find audiences responding positively from the first preview, however, so no major rethinking was required.

After Electra Marty Cruickshank 2 credit Steve Tanner

Soon press night was upon us and the show was properly up-and-running. I popped in to check on it and enjoyed finding out what audience members thought of the piece both during the interval and after the final curtain. From talking to attendees and listening to the questions asked at the post-show, it’s clear that Plymouth audiences really engaged with the theme of long-held family resentments which runs beneath the surface comedy of April’s script. For me, one of the joys of theatre is that its ‘liveness’ means a production will continue to grow and change across its run, and I look forward to seeing how the piece develops over the coming month.

After Electra runs at the Tricycle Theatre from Thursday 7th April until Saturday 2nd May. Let us know what you think of it by commenting below!

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