Our cast, Jonny and Alex, reflect on the second period of rehearsals with Chris
J: The first thing that comes to mind is creating the room. We decided quite early on that it is white. Concrete. All six sides.
A: Yes, we put features into it.
J: Yup, such as cracks in the wall, a grate, and later on we talked about potentially something in the front wall, or around that area which implies the power and world outside.
A: When we first built the room and we remained in it, we stayed in there for about an hour and a half this morning. We built the room and were just in the white square, and then you asked us to leave the room and told us that we could never come back. And that made me feel horrible. I’d just spent an hour and a half acclimatising to the four walls, and the floor and the ceiling, and the light, and the cracks, so the idea of never being able to come back into something you’ve created is just horrible. Then, this afternoon when we did one of the improvisation exercises in a specific scenario, all I wanted to do was leave the room. And when the exercise ended, and I left the room, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to go back today.
A: We were asked a number of questions and from the text work we did yesterday, and the relationships we’ve been building today, the relationship between us, and in relation to the room, I got more of an idea who Leon is. I can sum him up in five words at the moment. And I gave a sentence to represent him, which works for the moment; I think it will probably change though.
J: Even if you change the sentence, the way you were going about finding those words to sum him up, it was like you were changing the way you were thinking, to be like Leon. Kind of like going down that corridor of someone else’s thinking.
A: What did you find out about Keith?
J: We found out about his particular, and different relationship with the room. To do with how long he’s been there compared to Leon, and how he’s actually exhausted. He’s not accepting, he’s just got no energy left to fight now. He’s been on the journey in his own way, which is the journey that Leon is now on – the story of being here, and existing only in this room. I felt a lot of tragedy today, and about the importance of that undercutting, or overarching, everything. The notion of sensation and the outside world, we started to explore that and I definitely think that is quite important.
A: I found the seven states of tension exercises really helpful, because then I started to find a way of literally moving my body in different ways that would then become a character – a different walk, a different posture – that process to transform. And being able to just go ‘ok, four’ and having those states, I could jump in quite quickly, get there, and be in faster.
J: I feel like we got an insight into what me and Alex are like, how different we are, as well.
A: The animal studies and improvisations were really helpful. Interesting, and definitely helped me. Using animals as a way of transformation, and bringing a different energy, rhythm, tempo, into you – it really helped because I was able to find that and then try and keep it, in the body and the mind, and incorporate that into the characterisation. I also found stillness from doing that. Figuring out when and how Leon would be still.
J: I remember when I watched you outside in Albert Square last time, you did some similar things – you lead from your head then too. So it’s interesting that you found an animal which reinforced that.
A: It was beneficial to enter a white square, and build it ourselves through guided visualisation and imagination. Because in building the space ourselves, it immediately begins to feel more confined. If we have the same square in our minds, it makes the space more alive.
J: It means there’s more there.
A: You guiding us to imagine and build it ourselves stopped it from being contrived, or built on assumptions of what people do in confined spaces, like acting as people in lifts, for example.
J: I saw your method as quite direct in that way. Because actually what this is, is two people in a confined space. But with the animals, for example, that shows how it’s kind of primal, you know. Those instincts, which are, in a way, what you’re reduced to in that situation. What’s maybe different is that we humans tell stories. And animals don’t. And maybe that’s what separates us? These rehearsals and exercises have really encouraged fantasy, and playfulness, and inventiveness, and I’ve really enjoyed that.
C: All of today I’ve been seeing what this white cube like, the world you’re having to live in; I can visualise what it’s like now. It’s very real, and quite isolating. It’s given me a whole other aspect of thinking – in terms of why you are there, and what the world outside the square is like. When I first read the play I thought it was quite light-hearted, but in fact it’s actually a really heart-breaking play in some ways, and I hope that when it comes to its final shape, that the audience will get to see that really dark side to it.
J: I think that’s something to aspire to. If the audience don’t know whether to laugh or cry, that’s great.
A: I’d love to walk away from it knowing that we’ve intrigued or excited an audience in some way.