Now that I've added a 'blog' page to our website, I thought I'd take the opportunity to say a big hello and give a little back story to the creation of this musical theatre company. So firstly: Hello there - I'm Laura, the director of Music Box Theatre. Thanks for stopping by.
At drama school I had often said that I wanted to set up a theatre company - a musical theatre company. One where a group of people would get together and create a story told through words and music. I had admired the work of many other companies such as Les Enfants Terribles, Dumbshow, DugOut Theatre, Theatre Ad Infinitum and more recently, The Human Zoo Theatre Company. From the Edinburgh Fringe to UK tours to site specific performances and festivals to World tours, these companies had proved you did not have to sit and wait for the work to be available to you. You can go out...
What is musical theatre without the odd box step and pas de bourree? Yet it can be extremely problematic in the theatre making process. Whilst we're not quite aiming for naturalism in 'Poppies' (I'm pretty sure soldiers didn't fight and sing at the same time!) we want the music- along with the dancing- to feel organic. Songs should capture heightened emotions when words are no longer enough. Therefore, dance breaks should be both meaningful and bold; they aren't there as a breather from the action. They function to further the plot and develop its characters.
Whilst devising "Working Women" (a sassy number which the girls sing after the boys have left for war) we experienced a few 'dance difficulties.' The song clearly needs to reflect the new strength and power of the women and yet the actions we had devised were undermining this sentiment. Bluntly put: it was...
Music Box theatre doesn't take a conventional approach to rehearsals. So far, it has been a creative collaboration transforming the rehearsal room into a playground for the arts. Everything and everyone is thrown into the mix and from there we see what sticks. For me, this way of working is both exciting and terrifying - we start the day with no idea of where we will end up. This 'blank-canvas' process provides us with a creative freedom that can be lost in 'actor- director-script' rehearsals. Of course some of our ideas are complete rubbish so we laugh a lot and start again. But some of our spontaneous, improvised moments are keepers; suddenly a song takes on a completely new character because Chris has tried a new harmony or Ollie has added a violin solo beautifully leading us into a song opening.
Like a lot of actors I am always fearful of the first day of rehearsal. Its probably the mix of meeting the cast, making a good impression and reading through the script for the first time. You've got to strike the balance between the 'fun and fearless' clown and the nerd who has highlighted their script. Thankfully neither characters were present in the rehearsal room (although Leah- who plays Elsie- did go home and highlight her script ready for day two!) Instead, I found a group of enthusiastic, bubbly but down-to-earth actors. No jazz hands here!
Before long we had raced through the awkward 'which shows have you been in' and 'where did you train?' conversations and were laughing like a group of friends. I think its safe to say that the Edinburgh Fringe is going to be a lot of fun...or have I spoken to soon? I'll keep you posted!