Notes from the English rehearsal room by Chelsey Gillard - National Theatre Wales

Notes from the English rehearsal room by Chelsey Gillard

June 5, 2018


How many people does it take to create a one man show?
The team in the room averages around 10 people – that’s on a quiet day.

I’ve lost count of all the people who have been into rehearsal in some capacity or other. We’ve had dancers, writers, performers, actors, directors, dramaturgs, stage managers, producers, designers, technicians, all kinds of artists and makers.

Quarantine have a open approach to making work – whoever is in the room influences the show, shapes it somehow.
Every voice has been valuable and valued. Anyone can comment on any element of what we are creating. Dance experts have contributed to design, writers to the sound, stage mangers to the words. It’s joyful and somehow not chaotic.

Taking to Sonia (who began the process with the title of writer) about this she said, “In Quarantine shows we all start off wearing our different hats. Then we all put them down for most of the making. Then towards the end we pick them back up.”

We are now approaching the end of the rehearsal room stage. The last few days have been hard – the all too familiar stage of the devising process where things feel like they are disparate. We have loads of content, loads of ideas but how do they all fit together?

We are now in the moment where people are beginning to pick up their hats again. Answers are being found. A show is emerging from the noise.



An empty space.

Or so it seems.

A person in the space fills it with their thoughts, their history, every moment that has preceded this one.

It seems obvious, yet all too often we forget.

But how does that person share all those things that fill the room around them? Sharing requires more people, but more people have more thoughts, more histories. It multiplies, becomes richer. More complicated.

For most of us language is our first method of sharing. Our words give shape to our opinions, our experiences.

Once you speak the vibrations from your vocal chords last forever, becoming weaker, less distinct, more scattered, but still there. Words have power – literally and figuratively.

Our glorious performer Jonny has more than enough experience to fill multiple rooms. So far in the rehearsal room we have been exploring what to share, how to share it, how to invite others to share. Do we make more space, or share the one we have?

All we know is that we start with an empty space.

Or so it seems.

Chelsey Gillard
Photograph of Chelsey Gillard by Rhys Denton


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