May 22, 2008

Thomasin: Rehearsal to Performance

If I was going to be a clever-clogs, and quote the play, I could say that the move from rehearsal to performance was the move “from thinking to feeling.” It makes sense, you lay all your plans in the rehearsal, you build your parachute, over weeks and weeks, and then, when it comes to the performance, you just have to strap it to your back and jump out of the plane. It’s frightening, but it’s a hundred times more thrilling than it is scary, because the performance is just so much better than anything you have ever achieved in rehearsals. Rehearsals are safe, there is no one there to see you mess up, so it seems counterintuitive that during a performance, in front of an audience, you should push things harder, but somehow, the adrenaline makes you do it. It doesn’t make sense at all. To me, it seems comparable to someone who won’t take their clothes off in the privacy of their own bedroom, but will do so with gusto in front of a bunch of strangers. I apologise for bringing nudity into the equation, but that’s how I feel when I perform; like I am revealing a hidden or vulnerable part of my self, or my thoughts.

I am a very nervous person, and like many, before a performance, I am ridiculously, horrendously worried. Everyone’s nerves manifest themselves differently, one member of the cast, who shall remain nameless, can only regain his composure by massaging his own earlobes, and as for me, my thumbs hurt like they’ve been set on fire from the inside. Tonight, much to my shame, when Jon gave us the call to take our starting positions, I burst into tears! To calm me down, Matt Stokoe, who plays Septimus, said to me, “You’ve done this a hundred times before; you know you can do it. Imagine it’s just me and you, like we’ve practiced it,” and then stuck his tongue out and grinned!

It is true; I have done it a hundred times before. Why should the fact that there are more people watching make any difference? Initially, I do have to pretend its just the two of us, and we’re about to do a line run in Rootes, but really I am only pretending to pretend, suspending my disbelief, like the audience will have to, tricking my conscious self to split into three. One part imagining its just me and Matt; another part feeling like Thomasina, reacting to what Septimus is saying, what has happened before, what I hope will happen; and a third, prickling with fire and adrenaline, gauging the audience’s reactions, feeling when more or less is needed, knowing that this is a performance. Let’s not bring the holy trinity into it, but I need all three parts. The audience is what adds the electricity to the action; I’m not sure whether it’s the fuel or the ignition but it’s certainly essential. It goes to the heart of why I think theatre works. The tension and the interaction between the actors and the audience has a sort of magical taste to it that you can’t get in a cinema. Grotowski calls theatre a “communion” between actor and spectator. I think this use of a religious word is important; it suggests an interaction beyond the mundane, or even the tangible, and whatever words you choose to describe a good performance, there is always a certain essence which has “beggar’d all description,” like Cleopatra’s performance in her barge; not a thought, a feeling.

Thomasin Bailey plays Thomasina Coverly

May 21, 2008

The morning after the night before

Last night saw the first performance of Arcadia at the CAPITAL Centre and, from the noises the audience made as they left the building, it sounds like people had an enjoyable evening.

We'd love to hear your thoughts (congratulatory or critical) on the show so please e-mail us your reviews. Send your thoughts to and we'll try to put as many as possible up on the blog for you all to read!

Did you come last night and want to see more? Or are you coming later in the week and want to get an idea of what to expect? Photos from our dress rehearsal, taken by the lovely Peter Marsh (of ashmorevisuals) are now available to view online: click here to see them.

Don't forget more information about the show can be found on our website:

Get writing those reviews...!

Jon Pashley
Assistant Director

May 20, 2008

Tonight's the night

Writing about web page

Arcadia starts tonight at the CAPITAL Centre. I very much hope you have your ticket and you are coming to see it. Officially, we have sold out but there is always the possibility that people may not turn up (they would have to be mad, but these things happen) so it's worth arriving before the show begins to see if you can get a returned ticket. The show begins at 7.30pm.

If you'd like to find out more about the play itself, before or after coming to see the performance, you can find more details on our website and - added today - there is a downloadable study pack about the play. Visit and click on 'E-Resources' to find out more.

Jon Pashley
Assistant Director

May 15, 2008

5 days to go…

On Tuesday we open house. Having been to many of the rehearsals and seen the progress made by the cast there is some pressure to make sure that the set, costumes, props and audience are there for them.

We had our last official production meeting on Monday, predominately discussing marketing strategy for this week. Posters are being printed Tuesday and postering started yesterday and will continue for the rest of the week. The Facebook event is a promising sign of the number of people expected to get tickets, but it cannot be solely relied on. I think it would be a real shame for any person to miss this production, as I have seen some the highest standard of acting to date; so fingers crossed that it will receive a good interest. In other fields, costume is being collected this evening – I’m really excited about adding costume to the scenes and completely bring the play to life. As ever, there will be difficulties in sizing and looks but this is a problem which we’ll no doubt solve once we get there. Props are gradually piling up and it’s a good sign that we are having problems storing them all. Actors are beginning to work with props in rehearsal to gain a familiarity. We are just about on schedule to getting everything, but I am still slightly worried about getting a lantern and producing the same object from different time periods – but we’ll see how this goes.  

I aim to have all props and costumes by Sunday, ready for the full run-throughs that day. There is definitely a buzz of excitement in the Arcadia camp as we make the finishing touches to what is going to be a fantastic production. (Anyone have a lantern?!)

Ben Canning

May 13, 2008

Video now online

Our first video is now online! To view it, simply go to our website and click on 'E-Resources'.

In this video...

Bernard:     Quarks, quasars - big bangs, black holes - who gives a shit? (Scene 5)

Maths in Arcadia

Thomasin and Sam talk about the role of maths in Arcadia. Why is there maths in this play? What does it do? Is it scary?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment on this post or by e-mailing

Last night's rehearsal: layering time

It's getting very close to the crunch by now, and you can really feel the tension starting to build in rehearsals. Last night was our first opportunity to run a scene in the studio, and the thing that most impressed itself on us was the enormous amount of space we've got to fill. There's bloody tons of it. Our table is stranded in the middle of it all like a boat caught in a storm – especially so given the new angle it's been placed at to provide better sight lines. Most of the night was spent trying to tease out the blocking we had done in tighter spaces around the table to fill the full breadth of the studio space. It was nice to stretch Valentine's legs a bit, and Kate certainly had a good time making Lady Croom lead Noakes around upstage like a stray puppy.

We were tackling Scene 7, and it wasn't easy going. The nature of the scene's two overlapping time lines make our cues complete non-sequiturs and all the more difficult to learn. But learn we did, and aside from a few line fluffs that will without a doubt be cleared up by Thursday. Jon informs us the night's results were very strong. The trick was not to be afraid of repetition. The way to get a scene like this to work is run it through until it sticks: physical memory is a great help in this kind of situation. The interleaving of different characters' lines and movements in different time periods is starting to look sharp and stunning, particularly the final waltzing sequence between Fiona and Rob, and Matt and Thomasin. I'm quite jealous of their deft feet.

Sam Sedgman plays Valentine Coverly

Tickets are now available!

We're a week away from the opening night and tickets are now available!

As this is an educational performance, tickets are absolutely free but must be booked in advance with Peter Kirwan who can be found in the CAPITAL office in Millburn House.

Where is Millburn House?
Millburn House is located on Millburn Hill Road on the University of Warwick campus, to the east of University House. On the campus map, it is building 38.

When booking your tickets, bear in mind there will be a post-show talk after Thurday's show with the cast and creative team, hosted by the Director of the CAPITAL Centre, Carol Rutter. No extra ticket is required for this event.

If you have any queries about tickets, e-mail us at

Week 5
Tuesday - Thursday, 7.30pm; Saturday, 1.30pm
(20-24 May 2008)

How exciting - see you there! 

I need to find a what?

A prop rabbit being held by its ears

When initially volunteering to stage manage Arcadia, I had absolutely no clue what it was about, except that it was a Tom Stoppard play and that I kind of liked Tom Stoppard. I also knew I was an experienced stage manager, having worked on three other productions in that role, and felt I had the necessary resourcefulness to find props. After all, how many props could there be? The answer to that question is: a lot. A lot of props.

It was then that I enlisted the help of Katie as an assistant stage manager. Not only was the amount of props rather large, there were also quite a few obscure ones in there, not to mention stacks of books. Due the play's double time-frame, many of the books have to be duplicated, one version for the 1809 sections of the play, and one version for the 1993 sections of the play. So, books that look like other books. It sounds difficult, but for this the DC cupboard (while insanely disorganised) proved a valuable resource, as there were stacks of leather-bound books in similar colours of varying shapes, and Ben (the producer) and I spent an interesting afternoon organising and selecting the ones we liked best out of the two-shopping-baskets-worth we had transported to the CAPITAL Centre.

Other props, such as two 19th century pistols, a dead rabbit and a tortoise were slightly more obscure to find, and I can honestly say that we were very lucky; one of my friends from my theatre course had a pair of replica old-fashioned pistols, and one of the actors happened to have a taxidermed tortoise lying around (I didn't ask), as well as a friend we could source some rabbit skins from. When trying to find props, you only get what you ask for, so ask around. Other things, like a period tea set, were found in charity shops and recycling centres. The next step in the stage management side of Arcadia will be sitting in on rehearsals and mapping out what personal props the actors need, then the props come onstage, from where, and when they come offstage and with whom, so that as a team Katie and I know the play back to front and can make sure that everything runs smoothly during every performance.

Hannah Tottenham
Stage Manager

The Art of Directing

Follow-up to Arcadia at The Art of Directing from Arcadia Rehearsal Blog

A brief note on The Art of Directing. We showed Scene One and, for the most part, I was happy with it. It is still very much part of a play in the middle of rehearsal but the cast dealt well with an audience laughing and managed to keep it interesting despite the lack of costumes and props.

The audience was probably the most interesting part of the event for me. Listening to where people laugh when they don’t know the show and seeing how the pace of the scene shifts rapidly (from a joke about rice pudding to a mathematical deconstruction of how fluid physics works, say) and how an audience responds to that was an important part of the process for me. I’ll be deconstructing scenes with the cast with this specifically in mind and trying to moderate the pace accordingly.

The feedback we received from the panel was encouraging. As I expected, they picked up on the blocking but congratulated us on our obvious knowledge of the text and the subtleties beginning to emerge in the character relationships (which I of course took full credit for!). And, since we had fifty people in the room watching, we’ve also begun to spread the word….

Rob Marks

May 12, 2008

Arcadia at The Art of Directing

Last Tuesday, the Arcadia cast performed the opening scene of the play at The Art of Directing. Kate Richards, who plays Lady Croom, shares her thoughts about performing for the event half-way through the rehearsal period.

Art of Directing: audience in foyer (top), the panel (middle), audience during forum (bottom).Art of Directing: audience in foyer (top), the panel (middle), audience during forum (bottom). Photography by Peter Marsh / ashmorevisuals.

Performing in any capacity is a nerve-wracking thing, but at least when performing to your friends and peers you have the benefit of knowing your audience and therefore what might be expected. Performing to an unknown group of professionals then, proved more daunting than I had expected, particularly as the show is a work very much in progress. Despite this, it was nice, and very beneficial I think, to perform to a group with such a wealth of professional experience and detached from the productions themselves.

Performing in several of the pieces presented during the evening meant that personally I was very aware of making characterisation even stronger and clearer, and to distinguish totally from any other character I had played for that audience. It was nice to be able to put the scene in the space we will perform in, to see how it currently works within that space, and so that the blocking can be adjusted to make the most of it.

Reflecting on the performance, last night really impressed upon me the need for energy and pace within the scene, energy it is harder to summon on command than to build up through warm up and rehearsal, and the importance of really clarifying the relationships between, and status of, the characters involved. The forum afterwards produced, for me, some interesting comments and gave me a lot to think about regarding the play’s text and my interaction with it.

Kate Richards, 7 May 2008

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