F. Scott Fitzgerald’s high school photo.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s high school photo.
Today is our last ‘Cake Friday’ and the show is looking anything but half-baked. ‘Cake Friday’, having become an institution in Budgen’s rehearsal rooms, does exactly what it says on the tin (especially if that tin contains a jamilicious Victoria Sponge). Each Friday, a member of the team brings in some form of home bakery for the rest of the cast to feed on and this week sees a very sweet- in more ways than one- offering of flapjacks from Eve Ward, Bill’s 10 month old daughter. A cynic may question the capability of a 10 month old to rustle up such gooey treats, but I for one will not be challenging the muscular Yank on this particular culinary conundrum. The show itself is rising nicely in the oven of the rehearsal room, just in time to be offered up to our audience as a delectable theatrical gateau. We are now running the show in its entirety and all that’s left is to add the proverbial icing. As to what kind of cake each member of our cast would be, here are some of my suggestions; Mark Weinman (Long/ Ensemble)- Fruit Cake. Mark’s various madcap characters in the play only seem to be getting bigger and well… fruitier. A natural comedian, Mark’s IWW man is certainly one to watch. Stephen Bisland (2nd Engineer/ Ensemble)- Orange Cake Zesty and undoubtedly possessing an orange hue to his Scottish beard, Stephen is our tangerine talent. James McGregor (Prison Guard/ Ensemble)- Stale Cake. Tough, hard and not a thing you’d take home to your grandma, James rides a motorbike, is covered in tattoos and is, without doubt, our cast brute. Bill Ward (Yank)- Jaffa Cake A confused and confusing sweet, the Jaffa Cake, like Yank, is seemingly unsure of where it ‘belongs’. The debate as to whether it is cake or biscuit rages on just as Yank rages at the moon, searching for his place in the world. Lizzie Roper (Mildred’s Aunt/ Ensemble)- Christmas Pudding Sweet, well-dressed and fiery, Lizzie is our festive pud. Mitchell Mullen (Prison Voice/ Ensemble)- Doughnut Sweet, classically American and possessing an all-round ability, Mitchell is a perfect match for this Yankee yum yum. Patrick Myles (Secretary/ Ensemble)- Lemon Drizzle Cake Sharp, sophisticated and a little bit tasty (my girlfriend’s favourite when studying the cast mug shots), Patrick is our citrus sweet. Emma King (Mildred)- Angel Cake Despite Mildred’s other-worldliness, this is possibly more the cake she would like to be than the one she actually is. Gary Lilburn (Paddy/ Ensemble)- Rock Cake Solid, reliable but with a spark in his eye, I see no raisin as to why Gary should not be our resident rocker.
- George Chilcott (Assistant Director)
Clara Bow in frankly one of the most amazing outfits I’ve ever seen (are those glitter heels?!)
~Myrna Darby~ Ziegfeld Follies
It has been a noisy week- a physical, visceral and exhausting week. We have behaved like apes, shovelled coal, sung songs in the stokehold, gallivanted around Fifth Avenue and more. We have also, as of today, been forced to move rehearsal studio as a result of our racket impinging on those offices that surround us.
In fact, it seems rather in keeping with the play’s theme that this week has involved the cast and crew’s search for a new space. ‘The Hairy Ape’ is, after all, a play about a man feeling lost and alienated when confronted with the inhospitable face of capitalism and we too were made to feel out of kilter in a building full of suits where the noise and stamp of our rehearsal was not welcome.
Unlike our protagonist, however, the cast has found a new home thanks to the lovely people of Theatre Delicatessen who have allowed us to crash about in their Marlebone High Street headquarters.
The first- and arguably most audible- day of this noisome week saw the actors being led by Peter Elliott in our ‘Ape Workshop’. Peter Elliott is, without doubt, the industry’s primary primate expert, having helped with the ape choreography in films such as Gorillas in The Mist and King Kong Lives.
Inverting King Louis’ wish- as expressed to Mowgli in Disney’s Jungle Book- to ‘walk like you’ and ‘talk like you’, our human cast set about learning how to walk and talk like apes. Peter demonstrated not only the ape’s physicality, but also explained the psyche of the ape, giving the cast a detailed and comprehensive understanding of ape behaviour.
He spoke of the group dynamics that exist amongst apes- the importance of one’s status and position in the ape hierarchy and of knowing your place and acting accordingly. He showed us how ape’s communicate- through a precise language of noise and gesture- and left us all feeling that, if you were to strip back our airs and graces, there isn’t such a very large gap between us and them.
The cast performed a 20 minute improvisation as a group of chimps in which they were encouraged to form a hierarchy, to display, communicate and move as apes. A captivating drama ensued leading us to have the idea of returning to each scene of the play, later on in the process, and rehearsing it as apes, to strip back the script and get to the primal instincts driving each scene.
Overall, the ‘Ape Workshop’ was as inspiring as it was novel. Peter is a master of his unique trade and provided all with a new and invaluable perspective, not only on the play, but on human drama as a whole.
Other highlights in the week included an excellent morning session conducted by Kate and Lucy which focused in on the group dynamic of the stokehold. Kate and Lucy asked the actor’s to form themselves into ordered lines in response to questions posed about status, relationships etc. This exercise led to improvisation, which led to a very lively and engaging run through of scene 1.
Similarly, Kate and Lucy had a profound breakthrough with scene 2 this week., with the ladies on upper deck. Asking the actors to play the scene without the words, but rather physical actions that represented those words, the exercise liberated the actors and injected the scene with a brilliant and necessary energy.
All in all it’s been another excellent week of work and here’s hoping we can make as much noise around the London theatre scene when we open as we have in the rehearsal room. I’m sure we will!
George Chilcott - Assistant Director
The Yellow Book c.1929
1928 Plymouth Ad