MARGARET CATCHPOLE 2012: THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC
Thursday 26 July 2012
My Margaret Catchpole Blog.
Having initially approached Matthew Linley about the potential of doing some work experience in the office at Eastern Angles, I never thought I would end up performing for twenty nights as a Violinist (and of course, the front of a horse!!) in Maragret Catchpole.
Over the rehearsal period, I was kept busy shadowing the Cast rehearsals, standing in for the occasional Revenue Man or Smuggler, and sometimes chipping in with what the chorus had rehearsed in the scene, hoping I had remembered it correctly!
During rehearsals with the Community Chorus, word spread to the Musical Director, Jonathan Girling, that I was a violinist. Slowly having my appearances in the Chorus cut down, as Jonathon noted "She'll be playing violin in that scene", I gradually accepted that I was going to become a..... ‘Musician'!
Having accepted my fate in the music corner (which turned out to be the highlight of the experience for me), back in the Sir John Mills Theatre, hidden away at a desk hidden by a curtain, I found Laura, the Costume Mistress. I then spent days sewing buttons, adjusting skirts and labelling costumes, as we brought them back from various outings to costume wardrobes- Panto heaven! I even found a whole box of Dr Martens! But Laura sternly told me they weren't in period, and we quickly left with the natural, earthy coloured skirts and bodices we had found that WERE in period.
However much I struggled selecting period costume, missing music cues, holding off laughter when hitting metal, and holding off tears every night at Will Laud's death... I had a great experience and have many wonderful stories to return to Uni with!
Megan Smith, Musician
MARGARET CATCHPOLE 2012: Dressing-Up Games
Thursday 26 July 2012
Penny is one of our loyal band of volunteers, and is also married to Roger who played an assortment of characters onstage as part of our Community Chorus. Here are Penny's memories of Margaret Catchpole:
Bentwaters Park and Slide - A Madge Memoir
May The community chorus begins to evolve from a mixed bag of differently-gifted individuals to an all-singing, all-dancing troupe. Some are more musical than others, some have two left feet, but no matter - a rough bunch is what they are and WYSIWYG. Some are even allowed to talk.
June The chorus start joint rehearsals with the professionals in earnest. Margaret mania begins to take hold as characters are fleshed out and ideas are introduced, tossed about, dropped or adopted. There is a real band. There is a music coach, a community chorus coach, a movement coach, assistant coaches: this train is longer than a freightliner. Over it all looms the Tall Director, the man with the plan.
It's Hush-Hush Out to Bentwaters for the last few rehearsals and learning to negotiate the set: multi-tasking jetty/courtroom/ cottage/ inn and the grassy knoll/ beach/slippery slope, caster-down of humble and proud alike. Is that fellow really limping or is he just in character? Acknowledgements to Ipswich A & E as mishaps multiply.
An influx of Angels Opening night brings the first landfall of angels to perform their angelic tasks - ticket-tearing , ice-cream doling, car-parking, bar-tending, rubbish toilets, sorry rubbish and toilets. Too many angels are still not enough to answer the unanswerable, unlock the unopenable, and prevent each parking and passageway misdemeanour. By their jars of twinkly lights you shall know them, by the proffered programme and the baggy shirt.
Gala This would have been a lovely day but for a mighty wind which made a nonsense of decking outside tables with checked table cloths and paper plates. However, Plan B ensured our guests enjoyed fizz and nibbles in comfort. A slight communications blip meant that some deserving friends missed out on the occasion, or felt they were ‘de trop'. Sadly this meant that some over-indulged in scones, jam and cream, while others were spared the horror of the Tall Director once again brandishing a very large knife while gesturing in full verbal flow.
Geography Those big Suffolk skies flung down tankfuls of rain, and the great winds banged the shutters on top of the hush-house tunnel relentlessly. Mostly this happened at night , when only a (fool) hardy few remained in their encampment on site. Afternoon guests departed either into dazzling sunshine or banked clouds of wild white horses; at night the line of traffic vanished into a fast deepening sunset.
Agriculture From dawn till dusk Margaret's beloved cycle of the farming seasons was marked by the mechanical clatter of the carrot grader, fed not by horse-drawn carts but by Polish tractor drivers pulling long trailers. A lone audience member, stranded on the hush-house forecourt until her family rescued her with a spare key for her accidentally locked car, was entertained by the workers practising their reversing skills round a slalom course of crates.
Farewell As the ship finally sails for Australia, we salute the warm-up penguin for the last time. Goodbye to the spicy smell of the hot wagon, the manic semaphore of the ancient marine-woman on car park approach (she stoppeth one in three, but only if they stop first). Goodbye to the chuffing choughs on the camper roof. It was a time out of time: the Olympic Torch was passing through the neighbourhood outside the gates but which was the real world? The two events seemed at opposite ends of a telescope. Back in normal life a customer at a supermarket checkout scrambled after her dislodged brooch - "That's my Madge Badge! Did you see Margaret Catchpole?" "No, but my friend's husband was in it". "Well, tell him it was wonderful".
Of course it was.
Penny Brookes, Volunteer Angel
MARGARET CATCHPOLE 2012: Dressing-Up Games
Wednesday 06 June 2012
The first two weeks of me working at Eastern Angles as Costume Supervisor has been exciting and challenging. As costume supervisor it is my job to make the designs a reality, and to do this I have to source, buy and make the costumes. For this production I am hoping to source most of the costumes because I don't have the manpower or the time to make too many of the costumes.
A large majority of my time so far has been scouring local (and not so local) costume stores. The play is set in the late 1700s, and unfortunately not many plays were written in this time. So, because of this not many costumes were made, resulting that this is a difficult period to source for.
The smugglers gear is relatively easy to source for as it doesn't need to be fitted and it's all plain so I have managed to find these without too much problem. Petticoats and underskirts were also fairly easy to find, as they didn't change much through the century so I don't have to worry about contingency as much with these. Shawls, mop caps and bonnets have also been an easy find, while hats other than tricorns have been quite difficult.
The items that have been the most difficult to find so far have been for the revenue men and dresses for Mrs. Cracknell and Margaret. This has been partially because the only dresses I have found from this period have been too ornate, and the dresses I need have to be plain but well constructed.
The problem you get when sourcing for a production is that you are never going to find exactly what the designer has designed, so you have to use common sense and historical knowledge to find something that is as historically accurate as possible and still fits with the design. Sometimes this is just not possible and in this case I have to find what I think could be used with that character and keep in touch with the designer so I don't drift too far from the original design.
I have also found that while sourcing, I will find something that looks to have the correct cut and shape, but has been made from modern fabrics, which is a shame as it spoils the look and would not look right on stage.
The next step for me is to go to London and check out the costume hire houses there. After that I will have to start making anything I can't source. I am lucky enough to have had a very helpful assistant, Megan, who has helped me to organize and do any adaptations to the costumes.
After this I will start on making anything that can't be sourced!
Laura Emberton, Costume Supervisor
MARGARET CATCHPOLE 2012: Horsing around
Tuesday 22 May 2012
Sunday 20th May 2012 - The final performance of Private Resistance comes to an end inside a tent at Parham Airfield Museum, and we bid farewell to Bish, Frances, Fred, Matt and Phil. It must be about 7pm. By 8pm we are back in Ipswich and meeting the cast for Margaret Catchpole. It must be one of the quickest turn-arounds we've experienced.
Monday 21st May 2012 - The morning sees the first readthrough of Catchpole with our new company: Rosalind, Becky, Frances, Liam, Peter and Gareth, and a chat with Rosie the designer who shows us the model box of the Hush House with the exciting playground that will be our set. Jetties, boats, sails, carts, barrels and a huge hill, even a real shingle beach. We are reminded of the huge scale of the place, and memories of Bentwater Roads come flooding back. We all take a deep breath and plunge straight in to some singing work, followed by some detailed work on the script. We're in the saddle and the journey has begun.
Meanwhile, at another rehearsal space in Ipswich, the Community Chorus gather. We've already been working with them for a few weeks, and the group is gelling really well. The Community Chorus, for those of you who didn't catch Bentwater Roads, are members of the public, who will join the main company onstage, and populate the world of the play. They'll be playing horses, ostlers, smugglers, farmers, revenue men, guards, traders, sailors, servants and beggars alongside the main cast. A couple of them have been cast in fairly major roles - Naomi playing the Young Margaret, and Tony playing the Vicar.
Creating a horse on stage isn't easy, especially since the National Theatre's War Horse, with its hyper-realistic puppet work. We opt for something simple and effective, and it seems to be working really well. You'll have to wait for the performances to see what we've come up with!
Tuesday 22nd May 2012 - The Main Company meet the Community Chorus for the first time - and immediately begin to gel and work well with each other. There is no sense of 'them and us', and the line between professionals and members of the public begins to become fuzzy. For this to work the two groups need to work as one cast, especially since the Chorus involvement is huge compared to Bentwater Roads. There's a lot of work still to come...
Jon Tavener, Community Chorus Director