Blog: Project update, Out of the Archive

A contact sehet of production photos of The Seagull, 1973
Contact sheet of production photos from The Seagull, performed in 1973 – a source of inspiration for one of our Out of the Archive plays

It does not seem very long ago that I was writing about looking forward to beginning rehearsals for Out of the Archive, and yet here we are already on the other side of the Scratch performance!

The auditions were well attended by a mixture of current and previous youth theatre members, as well as other 16-25 year olds in the local area who have never attended a group at CFT before. It was a strong group of performers who we had to whittle down to a cast of just seven, based on the types of characters we had to fill.

We then entered into an intensive rehearsal process over two weeks. Playing two characters in two of three very different plays is no easy task, but this is what we have asked of the majority of our actors. We began by blocking through each of the plays very simply – to get the shape of it and a feel for the changes in pace. Through this process we were able to pick out the key pieces of set, costume and props that we would need and used temporary found objects to represent them (including a seagull created from a large toy mouse and a rabbit ears headband, it’s amazing what you can find in a rehearsal room).

In any rehearsal process there always comes a point where the physical script becomes a hindrance rather than a help – the actors forget what to do with their hands. So the challenge was for everyone to have learnt their lines by the Scratch performance. A task which I am proud to say every member of the cast tackled head on – not a single line needed prompting on the day.

The Scratch performance took place in the football club space to an audience comprising of the playwrights, their mentor Greg Mosse, the Heritage Team, our Youth Theatre Director and Associate Producer. Each of these audience members were looking at the pieces from a different angle, and most importantly were fresh to the stories. This means that they have been able to give me some very useful feedback, which I will be passing on to the cast and also to the playwrights.

Over the next three weeks the cast have a break to make sure that they are not paraphrasing and learn any rewrites that the playwrights may have. I will be meeting with our Stage Manager and then we will go back into rehearsals, which will focus much more on smaller details in the text and further character development. I am so pleased to say that we are in a very good place moving forward, and I cannot wait to see the performances that these committed and talented young people produce.

Out of the Archive will be performed on the 25th October, 11am in the Minerva Theatre. Tickets are free and booking is essential through Chichester Festival Theatre box office.