Director Liz Postlethwaite takes us behind the scenes of re:play production Stars Are Fire.
I originally worked on Stars Are Fire with Monkeywood Theatre as the show’s director as part of 24:7 Theatre Festival during July 2013. That had been an exciting and enriching creative process so I was delighted when I got the call from Francesca (who wrote the play) to say that it had been chosen to be part of re:play festival at The Lowry. Firstly, because I knew it would be great to revisit and rediscover the piece, but also because of the new possibilities that re:play and The Lowry would offer in terms of developing the piece further. So, five months on from when we originally produced STARS, six months on from when I originally got involved, and a year on from when Francesca had first submitted the script to 24:7, we found ourselves in a rehearsal room once again.
It’s a great opportunity to have the chance to return to a play you’ve worked on before – to explore it again and discover its people and places with a fresh perspective. From a director’s point of view I’m particularly interested in keeping a sense of freshness in the performance that often comes naturally with something that is new but, is trickier to recreate with a show you are more familiar with. That’s why I can’t think of this as a re-staging. I have to think of it as a new creative journey with different challenges and opportunities; to meet Neil, Carly and Lou as though they are characters that I am encountering for the first time.
On this basis we began our first day of rehearsals doing no acting at all. Instead we mapped the structure of the story from scene to scene, thinking about each episode in the story in terms of facts that we know about it from the script. Not mapping what we think or assume, but mapping things we actually know to be true from what Francesca has written. So where a scene is taking place, what time of day it is, who’s there, what are they doing…that sort of thing. Then we went on to ask what we don’t know, but would really like to…so things like; is Carly a good cook? What sort of car does Neil drive? How far is it from Lou’s house to the beach? Some big questions about life and some little practical ones about who does what or says what. This map will then become the foundation of our rehearsal process and will be something that we add to and return to as we go along.
So that’s where we’re up to right now. And in the flurry of sourcing props, fitting costumes and learning lines I can hardly believe that, within a week, this story and these characters will be revealed to an audience once again. Exciting times!