Sunday, 11 July 2010

One week in and the pre-shows begin...

We're now a third of the way in to our rehearsal schedule. Most of the shows now 'exist' in somewhat crude forms, everythings starting to take shape. We had a moment where the terror kicked in but that's now passed and (touch wood) we're going to pull of a huge programme of shows for this fringe - and they won't just exist, but they will be better than anything audiences have seen from Belt Up before.

There's still a way to go before the fringe begins though but some shows have technically already started - well the 'pre-shows' at least. The Surrealists from 'Lorca is Dead' have been unleashed on the world, you can meet and chat to them if you want on Twitter - they will remember you!

Our rehearsal process is influenced greatly by Keith Johnstone (get 'Impro' from here, you won't regret it!) and we spend a lot of time building up each character using mask and trance. Those of you who caught 'Lorca is Dead' at York Theatre Royal in May earlier this year will have met and even had conversations with some of the characters. Using Mask and Trance we essentially breed our characters, teach them to talk, walk etc so that when audiences meet them, the actor playing them doesn't need to worry about improvising or anything, they act on impulse in character - if anyone's seen 'Being John Malkovich' that's kind of what it's like from the actor's point of view. This sounds very odd but read Keith Johnstone's book, especially the chapter on 'Mask and Trance' and it will all become clearer. We use a variation of this technique to create all our characters which makes it incredibly exciting when developing new characters. With so many brand new shows, this means developing a lot of new characters, we have no idea what they'll actually be like (we can get vague ideas but will never truly know till we meet them). Quite often as part of this character development process we'll take the characters out on trips into town, to shops and such like which makes for a lot of entertainment. If anyone's in York this month then you may bump into some new characters getting ready for the Edinburgh shows!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The rehearsals so far

It's Day 5 of rehearsals...

Energy is still surprisingly alive and kicking amongst the members of Belt Up despite 12 hour day of mainly physical work. The excitement is still very much buzzing about the company and there's a real sense that the 9 shows taking part in The House Above are going to be the highest quality work we have ever done, both as a company and as individuals.

We began rehearsals with three days of workshops in which we played about with everything from voice and movement to a session entitled only as 'ballsiness'. The ballsiness workshops essentially consisted of getting rid of all fear and reservations through the use of trampettes and a couple of crash mats - we can pretty much all fly now, or at least fall with style.

The individual show rehearsals began on monday but there's not really much to say about these because we are all sworn to secrecy. All I can say is that there's been a lot of discussion in blogs and reviews about site-specific, interactive, participatory, whatever-you-want-to-call-it theatre having no depth or heart recently... This Edinburgh we're hoping we can prove otherwise... and judging from rehearsals so far we're looking set to achieve this goal.

So, that's a little round up from Belt Up Boot Camp so far, Odyssey and The Boy James are currently being rehearsed at the moment and then it's Metamorphosis after lunch and then Lorca is Dead after dinner - a very busy day but an incredibly exciting one.

Belt Up

p.s. As a little shameless self-congratulatory point, we were listed in the Guardian this week as amongst the 'must see' shows this Fringe - check it out at