I took my trainers off, my face involuntarily scrunching at the smell emanating from my socks. I had been on my feet all day helping to direct the sailor’s scenes in the up and coming Youth Theatre production of Gulliver. The unsavoury aroma followed me down the stairs as I went to make myself a much needed sandwich.
I found myself humming the tune to the sailor’s song that re-invents itself throughout the show. The energy the group of lads produced in the singing warm-up set the tone for the rehearsal and still had me bustling around the kitchen an hour after the rehearsals had finished.
We took the scenes chronologically, working our way slowly through each one, taking a steaming hot iron to any problems, toiling away until the creases had disappeared and everything was smooth sailing. Nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. There was no democracy to the rehearsal. Frustration was evident in the faces and postures of the sailors when they were asked to do the same thirty seconds of a three minute scene over and over and yet their professionalism bore through.
The group had an astounding knack to listen to three voices at once and still discern what we wanted from them. Remembering their parts well, they all made the transition from playing the sort of sailor in a pantomime to playing the serious sailor with the possible troubles and tribulations that come with life at sea. Some of them even got their wish to play pirates for a scene. The odour was back, but it brought with it a great sense of achievement. We had done what we had set out to do, but there are still many weeks of rehearsing to go. So for now, we shall keep swabbing.By Ed Toone (Pirate Number 3)