Red Snapper In Rehearsal - Part 1, Starting Out

Posted on 11 February 2016

With rehearsals for our new play Red Snapper now in full swing, Assistant Director Maeve Clarke fills us in on the play’s journey from page to stage…

Maeve’s first attempted playwriting when she was one of 16 writers chosen for Critical Mass – an introduction to playwriting at Coventry Belgrade Theatre. Her play, Jackanooni Tales received a staged reading at the Belgrade later that year. In 2013, her short play, Retribution, was performed as part of Birmingham’s Capital Festival. The following year, she was commissioned to write a short play, Consent, for the Belgrade Youth theatre, which was performed as part of Byt Raw in 2013. Jackanooni Tales was part performed as part of Raw Unplugged in 2015.

Maeve is absolutely delighted to be involved with Critical Mass again. This time as Assistant Director on Red Snapper – the first full production to come from the Critical Mass writing programme.

December 18 2015
It’s a week before Christmas, and I’m in my pyjamas jumping up and down in my living room. Why? I’d just found out I’d got the position of Assistant Director on Red Snapper. What a great Christmas present!

12th January 2016
Technically, I’m not needed until the second week of February, but Justine Themen, Associate Director, Belgrade and director of Red Snapper invites me to see the full colour model of the set and to get an idea of the process leading up to rehearsals. I’m all in.

18th January 2016
My very first meeting is with Justine, Janet Vaughan and Prema Mehta, set and lighting designers respectively. Set design is complex. I am one of those people who have to move furniture around in a space before they can really see how it will look in place so I’m curious to see how other people’s minds work. I can’t envisage creating a model of anything, whether from other people’s words and descriptions, or even my own ideas. It’s interesting to hear Janet and Prema discuss how they set to work after reading the script. Janet will naturally focus on space and form and feeling. Judging the best way to interpret the world the writer has created, making set pieces multifunctional, deciding which pieces can be folded away or transformed into another set piece, possibly in front of the audience and all the while taking into account budget constraints.

Prema who must consider how best to support the theme of the play through lighting.
Painting a picture with lights and deciding if the effect needed is surreal, naturalistic or abstract. Working out where the focus should be and how different lights will reflect on the materials the props are made out of. Watching the two designers at work made me realize how little I think about this part of the process, let alone know.

Thirty minutes later, I attend the final design meeting which is attended by a range of people including the executive director of the theatre, wardrobe, stage management, lighting, props and marketing. Justine talks a little about the play and the background to the Critical Mass writing programme. The programme is in its eighth year, and although there have been staged readings of previous participant’s work, Red Snapper is the first play to have a full production. The model set is then officially presented, after which, Janet and Prema talk more to the relevant teams whilst, Justine goes through a checklist of things still to be done with stage management and wardrobe in order to ensure that rehearsals run smoothly. Then it’s on to the next meeting.

Finally, I get a proper chance to meet Liz Mytton, writer of Red Snapper, at the writer and director’s meeting. I’ve been looking forward to this. Liz is the first Critical Mass participant to have her play fully produced. As a Critical Mass participant myself, I’m so pleased for her and eager to learn more about her play. Justine asks Liz many questions about the background of the play and the motivation and actions of the characters. That they’ve done this many times before is clear, but each time the questions and answers serve to reinforce the social, cultural and political world that Liz has created in her play.

The day finally ends with a meeting between Liz and the Communications and Marketing team who must decide on a final poster design and how best to publicize her play.

It’s been a typical day in the life of a director and I’m left with plenty to think about. I’m can’t wait for rehearsals to get started, but before that, my first practical task – background research on the political, social and historical world of the Caribbean of the 1960s.

Red Snapper makes its stage premiere in B2 from Sat 5 – Sat 19 Mar. Tickets are priced from £9.50 – £17. Tickets are available from the Belgrade Box Office on 024 7655 3055 or book online for even cheaper tickets.