Ophelias Zimmer Rehearsal Diary

Week 4 – Thursday 26th November

Following an initial three weeks of rehearsals in London, Ophelias Zimmer rehearsals have transferred to the Schaubühne in Berlin. Today marked our first day in the performance space, Saal C. Saal C is a newly renovated theatre within the Schaubühne, featuring a wooden Elizabethan-style auditorium based on that of the Globe Theatre.

Stepping into the space, everyone was excited to see the fully installed set. Previously, we had only seen the design in two-dimensions (concept imagery) or in small-scale (model-box). Now, it’s a habitable space, animated by the actors.

During the technical induction, we walked backstage through a labyrinth of passages that the actors must navigate before they can step into Ophelia’s bedroom. After this briefing, the staging process continued with Katie Mitchell (Director) further developing the blocking for the climax of the production. Katie works closely with the actors, as well as Chloe Lamford (Designer) and Lily McLeish (Associate Director) to sculpt how the actors logically use the space.

Alice Birch (Writer) is integral to the creative development process occurring in rehearsals. Ophelias Zimmer is a new work in its own right, rather than merely an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Therefore, it is a privilege to have Alice in the room to edit, cut and extend the text. Sometimes the text is updated in response to staging ideas that arise in rehearsals. Sometimes the direction is adapted in response to new ideas that arise in the text. This innovative and successful process is only possible due to the truly collaborative relationship between Katie and Alice.

In rehearsals, we work from a ‘performance score’ consisting of Alice’s dialogue and stage directions as well as Katie’s stage directions and dramaturgical structure of delineated events. It’s a constantly evolving document. The only problem is the amount of printer paper that we’re getting through. Luckily, Germany is famed for its recycling system!

Towards the end of today’s rehearsals, we ran a large section of the performance. This run also incorporated lighting and sound elements. We don’t have any designated technical rehearsals scheduled, so this technical work is being integrated into rehearsals alongside the work with the actors.

Tomorrow, we shall be trialing one of the production’s coup de théâtres. I shan’t give away what that special effect will be, but we’re very much looking forward to testing it.