Dominic Kimberlin, second year student and experienced St Andrews actor, has just begun rehearsals for ‘We Long Endure’, a play that he wrote. This puts him in the unique position of being a writer, actor, and director—that’s quite a lot of hats for a second year! He shares his stream-of-consciousness perspective on what being a first time director as well as a long-time actor directing your own work is like:
So, I just finished directing my first ever rehearsal. Wait, no. The first rehearsal I directed was in Year 9 for an adaptation of ‘Phantom of the Opera’. It wasn’t great. I kicked a child. The fact that I was also a child does not excuse the unprofessional nature of the kick, but I felt that it was warranted in the circumstances, considering how annoying the child was being. However, I cannot deny that one of my favourite parts of acting has always been annoying the director, so I may have been trying to set a precedent on how future rehearsals were going to proceed. As it transpired, future rehearsals proceeded with another director.
Six years on, lessons have been learned and this new first rehearsal went by with an absolute minimum of cast-directed abuse. To be fair, the directing experience has improved since high school, not least because there are no longer any children, but also because the standard of actors available is far higher. I’m also pretty sure I’ve matured as an individual since then as kicks are a thing of the past.
I began the rehearsal with fifteen minutes of stretching. Stretching is something I generally encourage among others, not only in the theatre, but also in all realms of life. There are few activities that are not enhanced by stretching beforehand, and I would not care to hear of them. It allows your body to move more naturally, promotes the flow of vital fluids, lubricates the joints, raises the body temperature, and feels awesome. Especially in the morning, you should definitely stretch in the morning. In future rehearsals, I intend to spend increasingly longer on stretching, as well as incorporating more vocal warm-ups.
After stretching, we started running through scenes. Whilst watching, it’s very difficult to avoid getting lost in what’s going on, partly because I’m so used to being completely involved, but also partly because it’s still very bizarre seeing people read material I’ve written. I’m aware that constructive criticism is very important for actors, and yet it’s still hard to give responses more elaborate than “awesome”, or “that was cool, great”. The crucial factors at this early stage are blocking, intonation and determining what’s actually going on in the play.
Due to the odd nature of the play’s content, a reasonable portion of the rehearsal consists of explaining the context behind the lines. Topics include the biology of suicide, the parallels between brainwashing and relationships, and a full five minutes on the psychology of interrogation. The scenes seem to benefit from these explanations, which is encouraging. I wore an Aztec-style poncho throughout the rehearsal, which hopefully offset some of the weirdness. Overall, I’m very happy with how it went.
‘We Long Endure’ goes up the 26th and 27th of April–keep your eyes peeled for more information about this student-written project.