Human Animals Rehearsal Room Blog (Week 2)

“Don’t go burying wild animals in my garden… or at least ask for permission first.”

It’s week two and we’re up on our feet and blocking scenes. We’re working with choreographer Frauke Requardt to create a language of movement that supports the play’s ideas. Movement has an open ended nature, Frauke explains to me over lunch in the Royal Court Theatre Bar, and that it can touch on larger themes as it works from the body. I love the way that movement, whether abstract or gestural, can show what it means to be alive, what it means to be a body in the world.

Frauke and Hamish, our Director, have been discussing the concept of our systematic everyday civilisation, which we navigate so smoothly. And it’s true – humans have adopted actions and behaviours so seamlessly and don’t ever feel the need to break them, nor notice that we slot into conventions and patterns without needing to think about them. For example: greetings and cultural dining norms. This is really interesting for us as in Human Animals the surmounting crisis forces characters to break their patterns, and the play explores whether or not they are equipped to deal with it.

Frauke explains that we’re not aiming to illustrate or tell a linear story through dance, but to use abstract movement to comment on the themes of the play in an existential way. And it’s quite beautiful. Frauke tells me about how the language of movement can expose ‘the fragility of the body’ and the ‘virtuousness of a moment’. I think this relates so well to the play because within the harshness of some character interactions, lies the simple fragility of being human.

We’re working through the scenes and exploring movement in scene transitions, looping, moving in unison and how a variety of different movements, with different feelings can add texture to the image of a scene. The style of our exploration ranges from pedestrian – an every day movement – to the more abstract, and at the moment we’re playing within that spectrum. It’s all about experimenting and not worrying about making mistakes. Our rehearsal room is a space for ideas and as Hamish says: ‘wrong is strong’ – when a fantastic image or sequence comes out of experimentation it’s always a brilliant discovery.

I’ve been mapping out the scenes, working out what happens when and what each character knows about what’s going on. I’m creating a master-sheet for it on our walls which, by the way, are filling up very nicely with research. There’s never a dull moment in the room, one moment someone’s made a fantastic joke and the room erupts in laughter and the next the actors have delivered such a beautifully acted scene that there is a moment of silent reflection, followed by a brilliant energy to rehearse the next. I’m really interested in how the scenes speak to each other and I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops as we work through the play.

Week three is just around the corner, and I can’t wait to see what it brings.

Written by Assistant Director – Sian Davila