On 5 October Matthew Friday's first play, Che Guevara's Motorbike or How I Found My Father, which he is also directing, will open at The Rosemary Branch in London. You can read the background on the Writers' Guild website and follow his trials and tribulations here each week.
Now we’re at the Rosemary Branch theatre, rehearsing in their ‘Pink Room’. The theatre is a wonderful blend of period furniture, theatrical posters and pictures from long, long ago, all of it set in a very old pub which has been on the site for hundreds of years.
Today was all about developing the on-stage relationship of ‘Alberto’ and ‘Sarah’. We started by practising their tango sequence and moved on to all the scenes they share. It follows a fairly conventional romantic-comedy structure in which boy meets girl, boy and girl don’t like each other but have fallen in love, and then boy and girl work this out over the rest of the story. Only with Che Guevara, a missing father, a dodgy landlord and an eccentric pensioner thrown in.
The rehearsal went well. We smoothed out of a lot of the scenes and got a real snappy buzz about them. I had a chat with a journalist from the Hampstead and Highgate paper for an article about the play, and I got the theatre’s consent to offer concession rate tickets to Guild members for the entire run of the play.
So far so good.
A day of mixed emotions. We got to rehearse in the theatre space for the very first time. Admittedly, it was around the set of Making Dickie Happy, but at least we were able to get a feel for the space, fix the blockings, decide upon the exists and entrances and plan our set.
The scenes we worked on were long and hard work. Some of them felt snappy and entertaining, but others seemed to drag. There comes a time in any rehearsal when everyone gets a bit fed up of doing the same thing over and over again. I think that time has come. We haven’t got long to go, but then the nerves haven’t kicked in for anyone.
If I think about it, I do get nervous. But there is too much to do first.
I made the bold decision to cut the Tango sequence. This is not because my cast aren’t capable of doing it. It’s because I don’t think we have the time to make it effective enough to convince the audience that these characters can really do the Tango. I need a budget so I can pay the actors to take lessons. In the absence of money we shall have to be inventive. I won’t say what I’m replacing it with – you’ll just have to come to the play and find out.
I was very pleased with the work today. We were in the theatre space again and did a run-through.
I was pleased with seeing the play in its entirety and relieved there were not any serious problems. A couple of the scenes need further work, but that's completely normal at this stage. And, of course, we'll run the play many more times before opening night. I say 'many more times' but there is only just nine days to go before we open.
Are we ready?
But we will be. (Fingers crossed...)