Sunday, 20 January 2013

Young and Old

Socrates Dragging Alcibiades from the Arms of Voluptuous Pleasure, c. 1791
by Jean-Baptiste Regnault (part)
Yesterday's rehearsal of Clouds of Grey was lit and music-backed. The keyboard-player Dave and guitarist  .... (sorry, guys, I should know your full names) have put together a series of themes that go with the different characters and situations in the play. I thought that the sound would put me off, but on stage I hardly noticed it and watching other actors perform it was clear how the music and lighting enhanced the story and action.

As expected at this stage of rehearsals it was a slow day, and the first in which we ran through the whole play. It was also the first time that all the actors came together, since directors James Tobias and Seth Jones have been working on separate scenes with different characters in different locations.

Watching the whole play for the first time - apart from a couple of scenes at the end  -  allowed the story to come together in our minds. Yes, we've read the script, but all actors focus on the scenes they are in and only the best and keenest have a clear understanding of the whole play if it is not a piece that they have seen or worked on before. So now we know what's going on - more or less, because as Seth (with his writer hat on) reminds us, there are always uncertainties, and even he is not sure about every character's actions and motives.

Seeing the play in its entirety reminded me of the wide gap between Youth and Age. I am by far the oldest person in this production and probably more than 20 years older than the next in age; most of the cast and crew are under 30. So it is not surprising that this is a young person's play. The story involves cops and villains and a mysterious manipulator; sadism, violence and death are pervasive. What we are is a cartoon or a video game. It does have an underlying morality, but a morality which is more mechanical than organic, routine rather than deeply-rooted.

I'm not complaining. All art ranges from the popular, mindless and ridiculous to the eclectic, intellectual and sublime. This play aims to entertain rather than inform, to shock rather than reassure, to appeal to the young rather than the old. I appreciate and enjoy being part of it, because it is giving me an opportunity to extend my acting ability, bringing me more friendships and revealing more insights into the world of youth and theatre. It's going to stun audiences, but it's not a drama that I would invite elderly relatives to see.

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