In our actual rehearsal venue today – The Entertainment Store in Balaclava. An inauspicious beginning as Chrissy and I decided to have amazing vegetarian and coffees at Monk Bodhi Dharma as we’d given ourselves half an hour before rehearsals to do so. They assured us it would be fine, though seemed slightly scattered about what it was we wanted…takeaway? Eat in? The coffees arrived takeaway, then The Avo…just did not. Arrive. We checked – it was being plated…five minutes pass…did we want that takeaway? Is it ready now? Yep! Plate it. Five minutes pass…it came, we gulped, we ran. We were late. The coffee was great, though.
The morning was set aside to collect props. But being a public holiday, we couldn’t actually collect the props. So the morning was set aside…to be set aside. But the afternoon was devoted entirely to performance art. We were starting blocking with Maddy’s Piece. This piece, and the work that Maddy actually does, has had more discussion and time devoted to it than ever before in Prodigal’s history. This is partially because we’ve decided to frame the whole piece as if it were an installation – the video art we’re using continuously through the musical should make sense of the story even if there weren’t actors in front of it. In the way that any installation allows you into a space to create your own story. And also because, ten years later, I understand more about the art world and that performance art isn’t just this kooky thing that a girl might do…but an form that might be THE way she wants to express herself. But mostly because of the actor – Chrissy is passionate about performance artists, well-researched, and it’s not a stretch to believe that she might become one after the show (even now, she’s throwing up the idea of hitting Fed Square and trying it out). And the more you research something, the more excited you become about trying to talk in that vernacular (I really am seeing the world with Brand New Eyes!)
Nonetheless, it was daunting once we were in our lovely new rehearsal room with Chrissy, a piece of music from a decade ago, and the space to create anything we wanted. Matty had brought in contemporary choreographer Stephen Agisilaou, who he’d met at a Thirsty Thursdays, to help shape the piece. We talked through what the piece does in the show – it’s the culmination of the piece that Maddy has been working on throughout the story, and it also contrasts with Luke being bashed down by the docks. We read the script introduction Maddy does – that her mother died when she was 8, her father tossed away her clothes. I threw in our designer Joanna’s idea about the use of water, which had led to the design element of Luke being thrown around in a box of water – she’d suggested that Maddy be cleansing herself in a bowl of water. Chrissy had thrown up the idea that maybe Maddy is half-Japanese, and when her mother died she felt cut off from her heritage. She has a kimono and Caleb started researching Japanese names that would shorten to “Maddy” – my favourite is Amaterasu (“shining over heaven”). The forming of any new idea, especially one not built around text, is so challenging. It feels silly sometimes, hopeless, dead, but Matt, Chrissy, Stephen, Caleb and I kept throwing ideas into the room until an idea began to form – one that satisfied our desire to create a piece that would authentically be performance art, while still using the music and doing what it needed to in the larger musical that surrounds it. Chrissy and Stephen did wonderful, bold, non-danced but very physical work, and built up a 90 second shape that can be contrasted to the physical work we’ll do with Ed later in the week.
We then got the production team together for the first time to have our first production meeting. It’s possibly the calmest group of creatives I’ve worked with. Although we’re only two weeks away from bump-in, we talked through every department, and when we’d need to have things finalised by (mostly in the next few days), where props are being sourced, who is constructing the roof and body of water we need, how the video art will be lit. It’s amazing what people will achieve with no money, but lots of imagination.
And with that, Jess, Matt, Andrew and I went to the Local Taphouse for dinner.