Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank


Text in Performance

Image of Nick Khan and Karen Bryson rehearsing the jig Playing Shakespeare 2010

How do you work with the actors during a jig rehearsal?

I like to have ideas or a chain of steps I’ve tried out myself and think “Oh yes, I like the feel of that”. But I don’t fix all that until I’ve seen what the cast make of it. So our first session together is about getting used to the music, if it already exists, or the rhythm that we might be working with and then showing them some moves that I want. Then they try them out! It’s important to do that because you want them to feel comfortable; I’m a 5’3” woman, so what works for me, might not work for these big guys who have been soldiers in this story – you don’t want them to feel in any way that they’re not comfortable in the dance.

I also do a lot of planning on paper, drawing stick figures and little dots for where I think they should be placed and patterns they can form. But until you see them doing it you don’t fully appreciate what you can make of having twelve people in a space, which is great, to see how they can all shift around the space. So again they help me a lot by taking instruction and trying things out.

I try to make it that by the third session we’ve pretty much got an idea of the whole dance. Then we’ve got lots of time to make it our own, to make the actors feel like it really belongs to them, so they can do it really freely and feel like they are getting people to celebrate the conclusion of the play with them. We try to leave plenty of time to practice, because everybody wants to get very good at the moves they are doing, so that they do feel that they belong to them.


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