Friday, 6 February 2015

Thursday Week 3 - Rebecca Hulbert

Ok - firstly to apologise... When I got into rehearsals the first thing that happened to me, before I even took my coat off, was that I was told off for my choice of jokes, and that they were pretty bad! Then everyone proceeded to fire their best jokes at me for the first 10 minutes of the day!

What's the similarity between an eagle and a mole?
They both live underground, apart from the eagle.

I'm going to get rid of my old vacuum cleaner.
Well that thing was just gathering dust.

Then into work! We ran a few tweaks that Emma had for us from the day before, and then spent the morning fitting the lights and projections exactly into the show so that it is as perfect as we can be! We have all been working so hard, I feel that we are so involved with the piece at the moment, with its intensity and subject matter, that at times it feels bigger than my life outside of it! Then this afternoon we had a dress rehearsal with a few colleagues and friends of the cast. I felt my character was a bit 'flat' today, a bit tired! The thing with this play is that it is such a fine line to walk between the characters being over played and them being under played, that technically it really is like walking a tightrope with the text.

Tomorrow we are putting the set into the Poly at 10.30am, and then we have time for a little bit more rehearsal in the new space and then it is...opening night!!!

Hope to see you there - or at some point during our run. Please come and have a chat with us after the show and tell us what you thought.

Becca x

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Rehearsals Week 3 - Danny Mellor

Before reading this play I honestly had no idea what restorative justice was and what it meant. 'After The Accident' tells the story of a broken couple who've lost their child in a road traffic accident and also tells the story of the young man called Leon who stole the car that crashed into them. 

This single event leads to a huge struggle for all characters; Petra and Jimmy with the overwhelming loss of their child and Leon with the loss of his best friend and lengthy prison sentence. Eventually after four years all three characters are placed in a room together with nowhere to hide in a facilitated restorative justice meeting.

What strikes me most about restorative justice is that it is a free forum for victims and offenders to vocalise things they want to say. From my understanding as soon as court precedings are over that is the end of victim and offender contact, which for most people would seem like a good thing. But looking at this from Leon's perspective (as the actor who portrays him) it is apparent that he doesn't get chance to fully talk to the victims of his actions, especially after years thinking about his actions. He doesn't get the opportunity to express remorse, ask questions, explain what happened, explain why it happened and also share how the consequences of the crash have affected him. 

I suppose the immediate question that pops up is 'why should he have the chance to do all this?' He's an offender, he's committed a crime, he's taken two lives. Why should he be given a chance to meet the victims? But Restorative Justice is not a soft option. Facing the people whose lives you completely changed is an incredibly brave thing to do for an offender and this in itself is an admirable thing. For me, my understanding of restorative justice is to address the unknown in every sense of the word, and this play shows that in detail.

In 'After The Accident' none of the characters are angels, and especially in the pivotal meeting the play addresses the sometimes ugly reaction to horrific things that happen. I truly believe this play is important as restorative justice is hugely valuable to help people to move on with their lives after such extreme events. Offenders in particular are much less likely to reoffend after a restorative conference so this surely demonstrates how effective it can be to get them back on road.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Wednesday Week 3 - Rebecca Hulbert

Knock Knock
Who's There?
Carrot Carrot Who?
Karate Chop!

Knock Knock
Who's there?
2:30 who?
I made a dentist appointment cause my 2:30

Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Yah who?
No thanks I use Google.

...This was main occupation of our lunch hour. The thing I have realised with doing a play which has such huge emotions, and challenging circumstances is that our 'downtime' seems to be getting more and more ridiculous the more we are living in the world of the play in rehearsals! I guess it is a coping strategy, and definitely one that I am very much enjoying.

We ran scenes this morning, fine tuning sections of the play. The poetic way this play is written, means it is like it is a musical score at times, so the technique behind all the lines and the lengths of the pauses is really precise...really precise. So takes practise and practise and then more practise!

Then this afternoon we did a run of the piece, and yes, it works! It was exhausting but I think we have created something we are all really proud of.

Tuesday Week 3 - Rebecca Hulbert

Tuesday - 4 Days to go... The day started off well as Danny bought chocolate swirls in for everyone for breakfast with the opening line, 'My car smells like a boulangerie now'. So that made a great start to the day.

This morning it was Ben's (Jimmy) turn to look in depth at his character. While my role needs a lot of very intense emotion which is a challenge, Ben's challenge is almost the opposite of mine and equally difficult, he needs to feel the intense emotion and then bury it inside and not show it. After lunch we began plotting the lights, meaning we went cue to cue in scenes and walked the scenes on the stage without acting them to make sure we weren't in shadow, and that the scenes conveyed what Emma needed from them with the 'feel/mood' of the lighting. We worked late tonight, so Ben treated us all to a lovely meal at The Trengilly - a hard and long but lovely day with the cube-ers.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Rehearsals Week 3 - Rebecca Hulbert

Here is a blog post from Rebecca Hulbert, who plays Petra in After the Accident:

The final week of rehearsals is always my favourite time. There is suddenly a sense in the air of the excitement of the first night, (which is this Friday at The Poly), it almost feels festive but also has an edge of fear! It is the time when the whole team come together, so in rehearsals Anna is giving us costume and building set, while Jake is working on the projections, Paul is setting up lights, while we are all trying to frantically learn our lines and trying to work out who we are in the play and what we want from each other as characters, to give the play the truth and voice it deserves… And then we have Emma our Director bringing all of her visions together – it is like being part of a huge family, and that is one of the things I love most about putting on a production. We couldn’t put the play on this Friday without everyone doing their bit.

So I thought I would share our week with you:

Monday - This morning we were focusing on my character, especially the moments of intense emotions she experiences, so that definitely woke me, (and everyone else up in the room) the level of emotion the characters express in this play sometimes reminds me of a Greek Tragedy, and there is no hiding from their grief, you need as an actor to confront it, and really explore it to do it justice.

The afternoon was then used to fit the projections we are using into the play, as they need to be timed so precisely, that often it is as if Jake is on stage with us and the projections are another character in the play. Emma is very keen that the projections support what the characters are saying rather than become the focus.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Rehearsals Week Three - Benjamin Symes

Here are a few words from Benjamin Symes, Artistic Director of cube, producer of and actor in After the Accident:

As artistic director, I am pleased that with this play we have returned to the core values of cube - essential theatre. This simply means that the words of the play are primary; it's the strength of the text that counts, intended to be delivered through technically strong acting and clear incisive direction. The design matters too but its texture is wholly meant to serve the play, and its simplicity frames the intensity of the play's content.

As producer on this show it's been fantastic and hugely beneficial for the company to work with a director new to us, the experienced Emma Williams. Her style has stretched us and taught us new approaches both as actors and as a production company. It's also been great to work with our exciting new actor, Danny Mellor who we found after casting the net wide. But it's also wonderful to have some familiar collaborators in the team, the highly skilled actor Rebecca Hulbert whose been in the last two cube Minack shows (as Lady Macbeth and Amanda in Private Lives), Anna Finch an extremely talented designer and our perceptive young film-maker Jake Swindall. We've also been lucky enough to have Paul Joines back with us as Lighting Designer as we did for Freddy Dare / Aubade. And rehearsing at The Tolmen Centre has really allowed us to feel at home, and given a chance to relax between 'takes'. 

As an actor, I've found the play a huge challenge. Not withstanding its content, the fact of having the three of us onstage throughout, with a stark and simple set, attempting to convey truth of character through heightened language is very exposing. I feel like we are walking a tightrope each time we run the piece. I hope we can get it right, that we can share the meaning and the emotion of the piece with our audiences.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Rehearsals Week One

As our first week of rehearsals draws to a close, we thought we’d share with you some of the events of the week so far.

Its not that we forgive him,
Because we can’t,
We can’t do that.
But I’m fed up with him
Having this power,
This power over us. (Sc. 9, pg. 36)

As with any new production this first week has been about getting to know each other, the characters, the stage-space and the rules of the world of the play (an explanation of what I mean by this will follow). It has been a week of line by line read-throughs, walk-throughs and discussions about intentions and meaning, and how these affect the play as a whole. One line said differently can change the whole meaning of a scene, or explain just one aspect of a character, but each and every nuance is important to the narrative. It has been a week filled with intense Four Square battles and gentle dance warm-ups, neither of which have directly affected our interpretation of the play, but nevertheless were very fun.

Despite only having three people on stage at the most, this play has presented its challenges when it comes to blocking (where the actors move and when) and staging (where the set moves and when). The transitions between scenes are something which are particularly challenging due to the quick changes in subject matter, and the potential for an emotional ending of one scene to be under-mined by the relatively jovial start of the next. One way to get around this is to have moments, or beats, between each scene change where the characters, actors and audience have a small chance to digest and process the action, and to metaphorically wipe the slate clean for a whole new scene. To coincide with this, the set is “reset” to its original position at the start of the play, to visually signify a definitive ending and an upcoming change of space.

Aside from the three main characters who appear onstage, After the Accident also contains a few unseen characters, in particular the looming presence of Mr. Casey, the restorative counsellor. What we have been working on this week is where this imaginary character can be on stage and how to make him look the most real. This means that we have had to decide on a concrete set of rules which will make the world of the play seem as real as possible. Asking an audience to come and see a production is asking them to suspend their disbelief and really trust that what is happening on stage is something to emotionally invest in. Especially in a production such as this where there is a high-emotion subject matter, anything which is jarring or distracting, for example, a clunky scene change or a difference in where each actor looks to signify an unseen character, can break the spell and weaken the emotional integrity of the production. So as you can see, we are taking this very seriously and working hard to tell the story of these characters in the best way we possibly can.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

An introduction to After the Accident and Restorative Justice

“How would you like to meet the people you did this too?” (Sc. 13, pg. 51) 

Julian Armistead mixes poetic language and compelling subject matter in After the Accident to create stark observations about the society we live in. The play doesn’t shy away from some hard issues, and Armistead expertly uses passion and emotion to underpin the dramatic, thought-provoking themes contained within his narrative. Centred around the tragic story of a little girl, three people come together to pick apart their feelings about each other, themselves and the wider world around them. It is impossible not to be drawn in by the characters, so real and respectfully are they depicted in the text. This goes some way to explaining why cube essential theatre chose this play to perform as our next project. 

Another reason why we feel this play is vital is because of the theme of Restorative Justice (referred to as “RJ” from now on) which runs through the narrative. The action takes place at a “restorative conference” where victim(s) and offender(s) meet, to try to work together to move forward. RJ aims to empower victims by giving them the ability to express just how a crime affected them, and to personally explain to the perpetrator the consequences of their actions. 

This is a real practice, used across the UK, with some excellent results: there has been a 14% reduction in the rate of reoffending amongst offenders who have been through an RJ programme (according to the latest Ministry of Justice research) and 85% victims who have participated say they feel satisfied that the conferences are effective in helping them move forward after a crime. 

Restorative Justice holds offenders to account, directly and personally, gives them an insight into the real impact of their behaviour, and an opportunity to make amends. Restorative Justice gives victims the chance to have their say, to get answers to their questions, to receive an apology and move on with their lives. – This is from the RJ website ( 

However, the reality is that only a small number of victims and offenders have access to RJ as an aid to rehabilitation. In an effort to raise awareness, Cube has led workshops across Cornwall, engaging community leaders, young people and drug and alcohol awareness groups. Using scenes from the play in order to facilitate a greater understanding of RJ, these workshops were hugely successful and the participants could see how such a programme would benefit Cornish communities if used more widely. 

RJ is often assumed to be something which is an easy way out for the offender, an unviable option especially for victims and perpetrators of serious crimes. After the Accident challenges this assumption; the play’s aim isn’t to glamorise a crime or patronise the audience with simple answers, but to use dramatic devices to show how RJ can work effectively alongside the criminal justice system, to repair trust within a community.