Plaques & Tangles Rehearsal Room Blog: Anastasia Osei-KuffourPublished on Wed 7 Oct 2015
We are well into our third week of rehearsals on Plaques & Tangles and I can’t believe it ‘where has the time gone?!’ said Lucy the director at one point. It feels like we’ve been through so much and still have a lot to cover.
I think we can all feel how big this play is, the themes it covers, the journey the main character Megan goes through over the 26 years that this play spans and let’s not forget (how can we?!!) the central issue, the fact that Megan has Alzheimer’s.
The importance of what this play explores has not been lost on us.
In our first week we went over the text in detail, researching and trying to understand the disease and the people who live with it. When you think of Alzheimer’s you may think ‘isn’t that horrible’, ‘it’s all doom and gloom’, but the stories we’ve heard and read, the people we have talked to and observed in documentaries and videos have hope and experience joy, despite the losses the disease inflicts.
This is what Nicola Wilson has captured so well in this play, poignant heart breaking moments alongside buckets of love, hope, joy and comedy. We hurtle from tender romance to startling hallucinations, difficult revelations to crashing song. The past, present and future of Megan’s life merges into a brain boggling mix. It’s been a wonderful experience being in the room, seeing this production coming together, being part of the team constructing this exceptional play.
When I look back to when I first read the play (which feels like a lifetime ago now!), I remember being struck by the quality of writing the detailed thought gone into every page. It was not a surprise to find out that Nicola has spent a huge amount of time researching and weaving the play together. The form (structure) of the play reflects the disease, we see life through the eyes of Megan, we enter her brain disturbed by the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s.
I’ve always wanted to work at the Royal Court, mainly to observe and learn from the great director writer relationships that birth such powerful plays. Loving new plays as I do, I really wanted to learn how to better work with writers. Lucy and Nicola’s relationship has been great for me to observe. It’s impressed on me more than ever how important dramaturgical knowledge is when working on new writing. Lucy always has the audience in mind, thinking about the story telling aspect of the play and what is being communicated when. Nicola has been in a lot of the rehearsals and has been very much a part of the team on this production. Her detailed knowledge of the disease and the logic behind each part of the play has been really useful in helping us to answer questions that come up as the actors work through the scenes.
Now nearing the end of week three the play is really taking great physical shape. We’re blessed to have a playful, hardworking and generous cast, and a creative team with exciting ideas for lighting, sound and movement. The challenge has been to keep a clarity to the theatrical languages being used in the play, and making sure we’re challenging ourselves to go beyond naturalism to stay true to the play’s overall form.
As I’m sitting in the room seeing the play come together, I can already see what a rollercoaster this production will be; a life time played out in scrambled order, reverse and hallucinatory events. I can’t wait to see it all materialise and for the world to jump on and experience.