Category Archives: Katy Mitchell

A Lot of it About : Gorm-less

aloia-dress-rehearsal-compilation-katy

So, I’ve just got in from our final night at The Lowry and oh my goodness what a run it has been here.

For those who haven’t heard our Older Ben (Brian GORMan, hence the very clever title) was struck down with a particularly nasty case of sciatica earlier in the week, which mean twe had to recast THREE DAYS before we opened! Cue our knight in hot beverage-y armour Daniel Thackeray (or Dan Thacker-Lad as he has been affectionately christened).

Without a word of exaggeration here, Dan saved the show. After tears, tantrums and a hell of a lot of coffee and hours of chatting, Dan stepped up to the plate in a big way, and by big I mean humongous and by humongous I mean… Well… Bigger than that. The man learned his lines overnight, and learned his moves in a day, ran it all once (in all fairness it was the entire cast’s first run too) and went on the following night. It would be fair to say that we were flying by the seat of our pants; Pre-show nerves took on a whole new meaning, and after a less than perfect tech we were on.

You can imagine our shock when 4 and 5 star reviews started coming in. It would appear this production is one of those things that holds new twist and turns round every corner, and I’m not even talking about the plot. I can only hope we are as well received everywhere and pray that the Theatre Gods recognise our struggle and bless us with engaged audiences, seamless technical rehearsal and the good health of everyone involved.

It has been wonderful opening at The Lowry and I am proud to call this show ours now. It was looking dodgy this time last week, but it’s fair to say we’ve all pulled it off, director, producers, costume, crew, stage management and the wonderful staff at The Lowry alike.

Also, can I just say how flipping lovely it is to finally be a team all together with the Broken lot. Our show is dominated by the menfolk (sans Tracy and I), so it’s ace to have a few more females about the place.  The sad fact is, I still haven’t managed to see Broken as sitting in the dark for an hour before I go on wouldn’t help my nerves or my ever flaky vocal chords, so I just have to wait until we’re on first to see it. Really looking forward to it though, it sounds ace on the Show Relay.

So, it’s with a heavy heart we wave goodbye to Salford, and say hello to Halifax. I’ll miss warming up looking over the Quays, having lights all round my dressing room mirror and singing a Kyrie Eleison in a bathroom with a beautiful acoustic (It’s part of my warm up, daaaahling).

Till next time, folks.

Katy

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Broken and A Lot of it About, visit our website.

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A Lot of it About : Chairs, Cues and Looming deadlines

aloia-rehearsals-compilation-katy

Today, Alex started by sitting us all in a line of chairs at the back of the stage and trying to make it so we don’t ever have to leave the stage. This really works within the idea we have of making the “memory” sections of the play feel really stylised in comparison to the more realistic elements (the prologue and epilogue).

I’ve worked with Alex many times before, and foolishly, I had a moment of doubt that it wouldn’t work with costume placement and the faff of everybody moving round. However, after putting a rough shape on it, it’s starting to look like a play rather than a series of scenes one after the other. For the first time, I can see Alex’s vision really taking shape, and that is always one of the most exciting bits for me.

In addition, I’ve been doing a lot of work during rehearsals (when I haven’t been needed on stage) to get the plays mentioned on Twitter, radio, Facebook and every other media platform I can think of using the hashtag #OCNW. So far, due to emailing people and tweeting, I’ve managed to get us retweeted by the Buxton Fringe festival, mentioned on BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Manchester, Manchester Radio Online, by some London people- even my lecturer in Staffordshire has some interest in it. It’s kind of like a game I’m playing, with no winners or losers, and the aim is to get it mentioned as much as possible by as many people as I can. Admittedly, it’s not the greatest game in the world, but I figured if everyone approached marketing in the way I did, it would be a lot more fun.

On Tuesday, Alex made a statement. It went like this:

“Oh my God. The show is next week.”

Now, I am ashamed to admit that I laughed when she said this. Mocked her almost. However, I can now admit that I also hadn’t realised how close the show was. This realisation, whilst being absolutely terrifying on so many levels, has really given an edge to this week’s rehearsals. We’re having a very intensive week and so far, the rehearsals are the best they have been yet. I reached a level in a scene with Mike (Young Ben) yesterday that gave the scene an entire new feeling and that is exciting. It shows that even at this late stage in the game we’re still growing this show, and I think that will continue the way through our run.

And I hope we do carry on in this vein.  There’s a show in here somewhere, underneath the availability saga and half-a-building-site rehearsal rooms, and now, for the first time, it’s all very real.

Katy

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Broken and A Lot of it About, visit our website.

A Lot of it About : It’s Tracy Day!

aloia-rehearsals-compilation-katy

We have been at this for a couple of days now and naturally, there’s a need and want to dig deeper into our characters, which is just ace. One of my favourite things in a rehearsal room are what I deem “The Big Questions”, i.e. the things that everyone wants to ask, but have been a bit too scared or nervous to fully explore yet.

Today’s rehearsal started off with a discussion surrounding the phrase “roll my own” and what that might mean within the context of what Ben and Ann are saying to each other. There was a moment when everyone attempted to be delicate, however, half way through Tracy (who joined us today for the first time in a rehearsal room due to the ongoing availability saga) confidently stated that it could be about “masturbation”. And that in essence is just one of the great things about this group of people. There’s no buffer zone or awkwardness surrounding these often quite difficult topics, instead it’s just said like it is and everyone accepts it.

It’s been a bit of a funny day really. A lot of waiting around for people to be ready, but no one’s at fault really. More of a problem with everyone being busy, but I feel this will be an on going problem. For now, while we’re waiting, it gives me some time to sit at a computer and type out my inner most ramblings.

Katy

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Broken and A Lot of it About, visit our website.

A Lot of it About : Crystal Balls

aloia-rehearsals-compilation-katy

Not meaning this in a pretentious way, or anything, but today I wanted to write something in the moment directly from a rehearsal room. I know that rehearsal rooms are often regarded as “safe spaces” and that anything can be said without fear of it making it out of the room, however, having checked with everyone, I felt it was best to capture how the first day went.

This afternoon, as we’re working in chronological order, Alex has mainly been working on scenes involving the menfolk-Brian, Mike and John. It’s been interesting watching them all work together. The feeling in the room is quite odd, in that it veers wildly from being extremely serious to these moments of lightness in which all the tension is relieved, which usually takes the form of shouting “Lad!” or “Banter!” after something particularly euphemistic, or in some cases, explicitly obvious. John has this amazing habit of making extremely funny comments which he thinks no one has heard, but I often catch them when I’m eavesdropping in their character discussion.

First day of rehearsals can often be quite tentative and actors quite reticent as everyone finds their feet and figures each other out, however, in this process we have no choice but to get straight down and dirty (ooh matron) with it for a number of reasons.  One very practical reason being the time constraints we have, due to availability (a recurring theme I feel developing).

Another key part of this is the subject matter of the play. It’s so extreme at times that it means there can be no inhibitions in the room. From the get go, Mike and John were thrown in at the deep end starting with an awkward post coital scene (I hope that’s not giving too much away). Luckily, they know each other already, so there weren’t any personal inhibitions to get over, but I thought it may be awkward for them because of their friendship. However, everyone seems to be “giving” so much that this hasn’t even shown in the slightest. Watching how at ease they can be with such a sensitive issue makes me admire these guys even more. I’m not too sure that I would be as comfortable as that, so despite them being pretty much the same age as me, I’m learning from them, which is ace.

In addition we kind of have a bit of a competition going as to who can make the most profound statement of analysis. Earlier, Alex used the word “dichotomy” and we all thought that was the winner but then Brian came out with this piece of rehearsal room gold:

“He uses the crutch, but he doesn’t need the crutch. It’s a physical manifestation of his problems. He’s like a little bird, with a broken wing who’s too scared to fly… And that, is why he is an ornithologist”

As I said. Profound.

John is losing. As he likened Ben to John Watson from Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock, and also said the walking stick needed a crystal ball on it. He’s been told to buck his ideas up if he doesn’t want to go to the bottom of the class.

Katy

 

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Broken and A Lot of it About, visit our website.

A Lot of it About : Embrace the Chaos (Read Through)

aloia-rehearsals-compilation-katy

Finally, after weeks of waiting, and chatting on Facebook and tweeting about how excited we all were to be working with each other, the assembled cast of A Lot of It About are ready for a read through. Kind of. Unfortunately, Tracey Gabbitas (our Ann) couldn’t make it to the read through, however, that didn’t stop the rest of us getting this thing going, and although she was missed, we had to press on, in order to stay on some form of schedule.

It’s been a long old slog getting us to this point, due to issues with there not being the right people around for roles and availability of actors but finally we’re here

MONDAY
5.45pm
We’d had our instructions to go to the Adelphi building at Salford Uni and meet up with everyone. Alex Shepley (our illustrious leader/director) and I are friends from way back when and live literally just up the road from each other, and so are travelling in together. It’s a good job we’ve given ourselves a bit of extra time as obviously there’s just heaps of rush hour traffic and the Sat Nav is being rubbish and to top it all off it’s snowing (or at least that’s what Facebook and Twitter said).

6.20pm
We make it through the arctic tundra and massive snow drifts (only just mind…) and see the looming Adelphi in front of us. Right on cue, like something out of a well-choreographed film, we bump into Michael Whittaker (Younger Ben). Luckily, he seems to know where he’s going.

6.30pm
After a bit of a talking to from the Security Man about the guy being out of there before 9 and trying to make our way through the labrinyth that is the performance centre, we arrived at the room. We set out tables, but unfortunately a lot of people were running late because public transport had shut down in panic mode… Y’know… Because of all that snow. In some ways, it was kind of cool to have a bit of time to chat with Michael and John Clarke (Kev), who had by now turned up with tales of getting lost on some dodgy estate in Salford.

7.00pm
… Still waiting and chatting, but the wonderful Dan Thackery (producer), like a knight in shining hot beverage-y armour, bought me a hot chocolate. I think it was to shut me up more than anything, but still it was much appreciated

7.15pm
Hannah managed to make it through the blizzards, and was immediately bombarded with stuff without even a moment to defrost.

7.30ish
Brian (Ben) and Sanjay (Marek) fight their way through the panda-snow-nium and we get going. It’s amazing to hear it out loud and get a proper feel for the play. It’s so funny and light hearted where it needs to be, and moving and quite harrowing in other places. I know that’s vague, but often it’s difficult to get the levels right when dealing with such a serious subject matter, but the humour is pitched in such a good place.

9.00pm
The read through ends and we all leave, feeling ready for tomorrow’s first rehearsal. Alex has already made it clear that this rehearsal schedule will be difficult because of everyone’s availability. Already, it’s taken the A Lot of It About crew a little bit longer to get together than our Broken counterparts, but looking at Alex’s little computer it’s easy to see why. I know that actors often have a reputation of not really doing very much, but this group of people seem to be some of the most hardworking people in the industry. Everyone has projects, and other little jobs, and rehearsals and whilst it might be an inconvenience for us, it’s brilliant to hear of people’s successes outside of this play.

9.30pm
Home and bed time.

Overall, really, there’s been a bit of a chaotic feel to this evening, but that is in no way a criticism. I love the laidback and fun attitude there is surrounding this. It’s unregimented and fluid and that is liberating is so many ways. Often I’ve said that I’m not really sure how “The Fringe” as an entity functions, but I feel this is a prime example of how and why it works; it’s just a group of lovely people pulling together to put on a great piece of theatre for audiences and actors to enjoy simultaneously.

Katy

 

To see the tour dates and book tickets for Broken and A Lot of it About, visit our website.