Human Animals Rehearsal Room Blog (Week 3)

We’re moving towards the end of week 3 and I can’t quite believe I’m writing our third blog already. There’s something about making exciting work with a room full of brilliant actors and a passionate director that makes time seem to speed up.

This week I got chatting to Jason Mills, our Deputy Stage Manager, and I ask him about what key skills a great DSM needs to have. Jason tells me – patience, good organisational skills, and lots of stationary. Honestly, his stationary stash is pretty impressive. It’s all stored in an efficient toolbox with a seemingly never ending supply of mechanical pencils. It’s brilliant.

I ask Jason what he thinks about Human Animals, and why he wanted to be part of the production. Jason tells me that for him, Stef Smith’s play is relevant and it has an immediacy about it. Some of the themes the play touches on were already on his mind. Having recently watched the documentary Cowspiracy, about the meat industry. I definitely agree with Jason that the play is relevant, and as I said in the first blog, important. For me, Human Animals is a play for our time, about our time and encourages us to ask questions about our world.

I think that Hamish Pirie’s production of Human Animals is creative, engaging and exciting and really works to bring out the chaotic environment the world of the play evolves into. For a DSM, this raises more questions to answer about how we make ideas work and bring them to life and what they mean for the play, which for Jason enriches his experience.

Jason tells me that it’s all about the ability to think practically and creatively at the same time, You’ve got a team of creative people, the actors, designers, director – and then you have a group of practical people like the set builders for example. Jason’s job is to be in both of those worlds and make sure everybody gets all of the information they need at the right time. To make sure all the information goes in and out of the rehearsal room to the right people – he is, as he perfectly puts, a bridge. Oh, and to top it all off, he makes fantastic shortbread.

What I’m loving about working as an assistant director with our company is that every day is different. All ideas are valid, tried and tested, if they don’t work, we bench them and if they work, we use and develop them. This week, my highlight for an idea-try-out will have to be my five- second moment running past the actors in a scene, yelling profanities and throwing balls across the stage. I’m hoping this cameo role doesn’t get cut, it could be my big debut. All jokes aside, so far this has been a brilliant experience and as we near week 4 of rehearsals I’m feeling really excited about the production and I’m looking forward to our tech just around the corner.

Written by Assistant Director – Sian Davila