All 6 entries tagged Jon Pashley

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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 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

April 27, 2008

The story so far

Rehearsals for Arcadia began in the last week of Term 2. After eleven and a half hours of individual auditions, Rob Marks, the director, and I had found a cast that we were both excited about and we were chomping at the bit to get them into the rehearsal room and begin to see materialize what had previously only existed in our minds.

One of the joys of Stoppard’s work is the clarity and lightness with which it presents complex and apparently incongruous ideas. In Arcadia, for example, an audience is presented with ideas of Romanticism and Enlightenment, heat exchange and chaos theory, alongside philosophical musings on the nature of time and the sexual proclivity of early nineteenth century aristocracy and modern-day academics. To explain how these multifarious topics intertwine is an unenviable task and certainly not one I will attempt here. I maintain that the only explanation is the play itself – the peculiarity is, once you know the play, it’s difficult to think of Romanticism without the butterfly effect and so on.

The richness of ideas and the vitality of the characterizations and narratives of the play, whilst hugely rewarding to a reader and an audience member, give the performer a tough challenge to face. For the first week of our work, we focused on creating two banks of knowledge for the actors: (1) what the characters know and when they know it; (2) an understanding of the dramaturgical purpose of each character. In planning these early rehearsals, what we did not anticipate was much how fun this seemingly academic exercise would be.

Rather than baulking at our investigations both within and outside the rehearsal room, the cast leapt upon the discoveries and the result is already visible in rehearsal. The day we decided to have a go at performing characters who are referenced but never in the play – including the sexually insatiable Mrs Chater – is going to stick with all involved for a long time to come … for better or for worse.

Jon Pashley
Assistant Director

March 2023

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  • I can relate to how you feel but I would much rather go on stage in front of loads of people than ta… by Sue on this entry
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