The Tempest Inside the Rehearsal Room

by Director Matt Edgerton

What we are making is unique and quite unlike any version anyone else has made.

Published

My favourite time of day during The Tempest rehearsal room is the late afternoon. We rehearse underground, but there's a light-well on the back wall, and for about an hour the room is filled with shafts of golden light, slowly sweeping across the sand floor. There is perhaps no difference in the quality of our work at this time, but it is beautiful to see the bursts of creative invention rippling across the room. Artists in a space in creative flow, making something beautiful.

As we work, I've kept two audiences in my mind. The first are the Shakespeare lovers. We want to give people who know and love this play something truly special. Such a phenomenal cast inevitably wakes the play up in delightful ways. This diverse, gender-balanced, multi-generational ensemble bring a unique set of lenses to the work. We are making daily discoveries, finding surprising new resonances in this old play. The other audience is even more important to us: those who don't know Shakespeare at all. We are passionate about making a work that welcomes these newcomers and says, 'you belong here, and this is for you too'.

Samantha Chester, our movement director, has been a big influence on all aspects of rehearsals, encouraging all of us to be brave and discover the play on our feet. Pavan Hari, our composer, has also embraced this spirit of exploration - rather than coming with everything worked out, he is composing as we go, frequently disappearing into his studio-corner to create music in response to what the cast are doing.

I am learning so much as a director from coming back to this play after a 10-year break. Working on a great play like The Tempest teaches me humility in the face of a masterpiece. This is an extraordinary piece of writing and any "ideas" you bring to the work are almost inevitably clumsy impositions. So, the play is once again teaching me to let go of control. What we are making is unique, quite unlike any version anyone else has made, but its particular sound and shape is emerging from many imaginations working together, not just mine.

We are looking forward to sharing it with an audience very soon.

Matt Edgerton, Director of The Tempest.

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