Hound of the Baskervilles assistant director Francesca Tennant gives us an inside look at rehearsals with her weekly rehearsal diary.
The process of putting on a play is not unlike solving a mystery – a team of experts gather, search for clues, examine the facts, bounce ideas around and piece a story together. Some days the facts tell a clear story, other days ambiguities or inconsistencies need to be wrestled with and turned over for reflection. Over time, the threads come together and clarity emerges.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing an overview of our rehearsal process of The Hound of the Baskervilles, an adaptation of one of the most well-known and loved Sherlock Holmes novels – but not as you might know it.
This week of rehearsals has been a whirlwind of props, furniture, costumes and strange sounds.
We have been working our way through the play chronologically, the actors on their feet, scripts in hand, testing each scene out in different ways and throwing ideas around. We have then been choosing the best ideas and moments, weaving them together and creating a rough shape for each scene, factoring in sightlines, making sure all audience members will be able to see key moments of storytelling or comedy.
This is proving no easy feat, given that there is a lot the actors and stage management team must juggle in this production.
As I mentioned last week, each actor is multi-roling, with two of the cast playing the majority of around twenty characters, each with different costume elements. To aid the creation of all these characters we are rehearsing with as many of these as possible. This is also invaluable for anticipating the timing of quick changes.
The cast also have a lot of great props to factor in. Check out a selection of them below in our Props Gallery.
Can you guess which famous characters might use them? Or what locations you might find them in?
Another element to the process that is perhaps slightly unusual but hugely helpful is that we’re working with the show’s sound design in the rehearsal room. Andy Graham has created a fantastic design crafting atmosphere for many different locations, creating and relieving tension and aiding the clarity of the storytelling. The rhythm of this design is also integral to the comedy. Emma Cook, the Deputy Stage Manager, who is operating the sound, is an essential partner in the scenes, feeling the timing and playing off the actors.
So, we’ve been putting together the text, sound, props and elements of set and costume. By the end of week 2 we finished a rough draft of Act 1 and started Act 2. There’s a lot to finesse but we’re getting there!
Check out some more rehearsal images in our gallery below:
Our brilliantly farcical adaptation of Sherlock Holmes’ most popular case comes to our stage from Thu 1 July – Sat 7 Aug. Book tickets here