I have been directing Just Add Water’s production of Bobby for the last month and this is what I have learned…
Last year’s Just Add Water performance of ‘Bobby’ at Buxton Fringe seems along way away. We knew we would be performing in a low ceiling, cramped space and that it would create an intensity in the story for the actors and the audience in which there is no escape. People sang praises after the show for the intimacy of the the performances.
I watched a show in the Lowry studio, where we will be performing Bobby this Thursday, and had a wave of nerves. The space seemed vast and the audience further away than I remembered from watching shows previously. While the space is clearly a studio, it didn’t feel that it had the intimacy that we had had in previous venues performing the show.
After a few sleepless nights about how we were going to make the piece ‘bigger’, I had an awakening. We could do so much more. The actors could take up more space, there could be dynamism in the aesthetic of the movement sequences, our 6 ft 7 actor would be able to stand up straight and stretch his arms up in the air, and our designer, Helen Ashbrook Billinge would be able to do more to facilitate the story. The size of the space instantly became a gift, enabling us as a company to push ourselves further.
This last month not only has Bobby gone up a few gears, but so has the way we have been working in the rehearsal room. I have been training the actors every morning to build up their physical strength and stamina and to create this sense of Ensemble. I think we have really pushed ourselves and each other to be truly collaborative, forgoing our egos, building our humility so we can tell Bobby’s story as a true collective. As a result, the actors Ben Moores, Tom Barry, Niven Ganner and Jennifer Campbell fly through emotions, landing on each state solidly and with a great depth of honesty. They pounce between emotional states, hungry to tell you this story. The language flies between them like a game of tennis, but the ball never drops. They move as one, all individuals creating a great mechanism of human truth.