So – the first block of rehearsals are over. I know they’re over because we’ve run out of biscuits and milk and green stickers and people have been forced to go for early evening naps out of exhaustion. We now get a few days break (well, some of us do, Andy has to learn a script which currently stands at 7,144 words) before Rehearsal Block Two starts in earnest.
Day One looked something very like this:
If it isn’t clear yet, both Charlie and I love making structure maps of plays. This one was a little bit different to the one that Charlie and I concocted in the drafting phase in that each section was agreed (and named) by everyone in the room. Turns out – writers are not very imaginative when it comes to sections because we are set in our ways. Thus we gained a section or two and away went our dull writerly markers of “Hopton-on-Sea”, “St Michael’s Mount” and “Latitude” (and onwards) to be replaced by “Reaching the Sea”, “The Giant” and “Claire” and other such names that dealt rather more effectively with what was actually happening in the play than simply where the action was taking place.
And then Charlie got the post-its out and asked us the question: “What is Beneath the Albion Sky about?” and I didn’t vomit because, y’know, post-its. Post-its are fun.
So here, for posterity, is what, on day one, we think Beneath the Albion Sky is about:
-Grief/ Loss / Death
-Families (and specifically, fathers and sons)
-Walking and the act of walking
-England, its history and its pre-history
-Stories and storytelling
-Expectations (both our own and other people’s) and being content (or not) with your life
-Order vs Chaos
-The significance/ insignificance of human experience.
And, after post-its and discussion we decided Beneath the Albion Sky is not about:
-Mysticism vs Rationalism
(Which, if Amazon’s algorithm is taking note, means that it can stop suggesting books on mysticism to me.)
At the very start of the rehearsal Charlie had set us the question “What is this play trying to say?” and made us write down our answer on a piece of paper and put it in our back pockets (Charlie and Andy)/ bluster about where we could hide it given that we didn’t have back pockets (Estelle and I).
This is what I wrote and hid in my notebook:
“I struggle with this question…it’s about grief…but maybe it’s trying to say something about expectations (both your own and other people’s) and the failure to meet them. ‘They fuck you up'”
Four hours after writing them we got these bits of paper out to share and, for the first time, I sort of realised what this play of ours is maybe trying to say. Plus I got to quote some of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia which remains an ongoing pleasure in my life.