Last night we achieved a full run in costume. And it felt amazing!
This is the first time I’ve come to appreciate just how exhausting this play actually is, and I can talk, I’m offstage for a whole season! Poor Alex always looks wiped by the end, which he assures me is useful for the final scene, but I suspect will drastically reduce the amount of time we spend in the pub post-show during performance week!
We’ve been rehearsing for a long time, and I’m reaching a point now where some of my lines are so well trodden that I’m having to be really careful not to simply reel them off without thinking. I realised halfway through a scene last night that I almost wasn’t concentrating on what I was actually saying, but merely repeating parrot-fashion, and that’s a dangerous road. I’m trying to keep my inflexion fresh and even change it up a little bit in every rehearsal just to prevent myself from getting stuck in a rut.
The rehearsal we spent working on scene transitions a few weeks ago has really paid off. The changes between scenes are gorgeously speedy and the action just flies.
Now that everyone’s got their lines (almost) firmly down you can see actors starting to have real fun with the emotional arc . The play is so beautifully crafted, one minute you’re watching a really intense political power-play scene and the next you’ve got a bunch of cold, horny soldiers complaining about the shit food in Scotland. But then that scene will take a curveball and end with a tragic twist, and it’s like being on a beautiful rollercoaster. This is what makes the play so tiring to perform I think but it’s absolutely wonderful to see everyone embracing the journey and enjoying where the scenes are allowing them to go.
We were in costume again last night, which is always a highlight. I’m still waiting on one dress but the one I have is GORGEOUS. I just spent my whole evening just sweeping in and out of scenes. Slightly afraid that my middle is only going to get bigger over Christmas though (who booked a play DIRECTLY after the eating season?!), so if you see me holding what looks like an unnecessary mince pie, knock it out of my hands please (just kidding , mince pies are never unnecessary).
We only have two rehearsals left before Christmas, then one between Christmas and new year, and then we’re tech, dress and show. I could not be more excited about performing, but at the same time I just don’t want this to end. I honestly can’t believe how lucky I am to have the opportunity to play this wonderful woman. To know that she was a real person as well, just really ramps up the whole experience.
Gruoch seems to be one of the first women to appear in Scottish Royal history, which makes me believe she must have been something pretty special. We don’t know an awful lot about her, we don’t know who her mother was, or quite when she died, but her father’s lineage is traceable (don’t get me started!). Before her, no women are mentioned in lists of Scottish nobles, but she’s there. Because the story that David Greig tells in Dunsinane is what we essentially believe to be true. When Macbeth was killed, Gruoch really did fight to install her son, Lulach, on the Scottish throne, she really did stand up to an English invading army, she really was belligerent, and strong, and determined. She feels like a massive feminist to me, and that makes me enormously happy.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s been more planning recently; Summer and I are going on a Gruoch pilgrimage next year. We’ve planned a route that takes us on a week-long trip into Scotland to visit some of the places that Grouch would have lived in and visited, and ultimately we’ll end up on Iona where we believe she is buried. Partly, this trip is just to prolong the experience of playing such an incredible character for both of us, but it’s partly an opportunity to try and learn more about her and ourselves. We’re hoping to meet with some experts and curators on the way, and you never know, we might even blog about it as we go!
Anyway, that’s enough emotional rambling from me for one morning. I’m told that tickets are selling well, so if you’re planning to come, particularly on a Friday or Saturday, I should get booking now!
Peterborough Mask Theatre will be performing Dunsinane in the Knights’ Chamber at Peterborough Cathedral from 3-6 January and 11-13 January 2018, you can get your tickets at http://www.masktheatre.co.uk