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Guest Director Perspective - Caitlin Skinner

Posted by Michael Fraser

It’s production week for The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde and I am rushing through the bar in a panic as we have run out of time for plotting lights and we need to start the tech.

Lung Ha Company Manager Michael Fraser stops me, calms me down and reminds me to ‘Enjoy it because it will all be over in a flash’. I don’t believe him but he was right. Even now it’s still a bit of blur.  So if I could capture only a few key moments from the whole process, I think I would have these:

- Morna Pearson and I lead our first workshop on Jekyll and Hyde with the company and the performers share their own knowledge of the story, themes and characters. Immediately everyone relates to the ideas in the play.  We all agree we are on to something. 

- The band have joined us in rehearsals for the first two sessions. At the end of the second session they set up and perform the opening score which Greg has only just written. There are hairs standing up on the back of my neck and the performing company cannot clap loud enough.

- At the start of rehearsals one day we have a discussion about how Miriam might be feeling confronted by the play’s Victorian gender politics. There is a fantastic conversation and I think I notice that the young women in the company have grown a couple of inches taller. 

- The production team sit around the model box of Becky Minto’s set for the first time. We all get excited using the torches from our phones to create shadows. Lighting designer Simon Hayes patiently explains the Traverse does not have the equivalent of a giant iphone that can go anywhere you want and so the lighting cannot look like that. Eventually we get it. 

- The whole company are working on a scene known as ‘the old town drinking scene’. Everyone is having a great time but it’s chaos and Chris Devaney and I are desperately trying to get a shape to it. Maria Oller comes to watch and gives ones note – “There is only very little beer in your bottle, you have to tip it right up to drink”. The scene instantly improves 110%

- Joanna Robson (the illustrator whose book the set is based on) visits us in rehearsals and Becky Minto shows her the set model box and she is thrilled. Kat Smith gives us a sneak peak at costumes and we all get a little high on how good it’s going to look and plan our personal fantasy victorian outfits.