“People can get used to terrible things. Very quickly, if they have to. It doesn’t take much for things to start to fall apart.”
Human Animals is an important play, it provokes us to think about the complex relationships between people, animals, and place. On day one we are straight in with a table read, a model box viewing with the designer Camilla Clarke, a session with the Movement Director Frauke Requardt, and a full company Meet and Greet. We continue the rest of week one reading and discussing our scripts with fervour.
What I love about the play is its form. The playwright, Stef Smith, brilliantly gives us snapshots of character interactions and the narrative of the outside world. At the moment we’re joining all the dots together, so that as a company we know everything about the characters in the play, what they know about what’s going on and their reactions to it. It’s a vital exercise because it allows, not only a detailed understanding of the narrative, but also for questioning character motive and reason. No question is stupid, Hamish Pirie, our Director, tells us as we sit at the table read. And he’s right. I feel that with every question asked, answered and challenged we get closer to completing the picture. The room has a great energy about it, and it’s fantastic to hear so many voices engaged with the ideas of the play.
We talk a lot about thought processes and how we, as human beings, may filter and censor information according to what we want to and not want to believe or acknowledge. It’s almost as if we’re psychologically wired to ignore things that are too complex or overwhelming for us to comprehend. For want of better phrasing, a blissful ignorance. Stef Smith calls this ‘editing’. What’s so interesting about Human Animals is that it asks the question: When does it become impossible to continue to edit, and why?
We’re recording our discussions and research on our rehearsal room walls, including timelines, keywords and striking images relevant to the world of the play. Today I’ve added to our rehearsal room wall in bright red marker: Anthropomorphism. (Alright, yes, I had to use spell check for that). It’s the prescribing of human behaviours and attributes to inanimate objects or animals. I think it’s important to be able to see ideas in the rehearsal room come to life.
I’ve really enjoyed week one, and I’m really excited about how the production will develop in the weeks to come.
Written by Assistant Director – Sian Davila