Celebrating 15 years

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OSLO Behind the Scenes: Moving to the Theatre

OSLO Set

This is the fourth in a series of posts taking a look behind the scenes of our winter Off-Mirvish production, Oslo, from the perspective of our RBC Emerging Director—and one of Oslo’s two Assistant Directors—Kerry Ann Doherty. Read the first post here. 

Right: The Oslo set, designed by Ken Mackenzie

The transition from the rehearsal hall to the theatre can be emotional. The comfort and safety of the rehearsal hall is left behind. The focus on the actors and the words of the script transition to a focus on the design team and stage management.  Moving to the theatre is one gigantic step forward for the production, but it can feel like taking a couple steps back. 

The rehearsal hall, full of windows and light, is replaced with the darkness of the empty theatre.  It is, all at once, scary and exhilarating.

Technical rehearsals are several long days of piecing together the work of the designers, creative team and stage crew into the play that is performed on opening night.  It reminds me of a puzzle – in the rehearsal hall, the actors and director worked together to put together the pieces. Each one is examined and questioned, ensuring that the right piece fits into the right place. Once complete, we lovingly move our puzzle to the theatre. Now, the puzzle is carefully dismantled as new pieces are added and the picture is changed. The new pieces bring a beauty and a magic that seduces us all. All the work the designers have been doing in the background on the sets, costumes, lights and sound is suddenly thrust forward. Glorious!

CAA TheatreFor the first several hours, I sat in the dark in awe of the picture I was seeing. The way that sound and light enhance a moment and bring focus to the story. The way the set and projection provide scope to the subject matter. The way the costumes help us place these people, grounding them in the world they inhabit. These are all part of the magnificent step forward.

Above: The CAA Theatre

Adding these new pieces to our already complex puzzle means a lot of work and long hours. Sometimes the puzzle pieces just don’t fit. Actors need to rethink choices. Directors need to be willing to change elements that worked well in the rehearsal hall, but fall flat on the stage. The costume designer alters clothing or colours that worked better in the sketch than they do onstage. The lighting designer is constantly adjusting for colour, brightness and focus. These can feel like frustrating steps backward. 

We continue to sit in darkness. Working. Focused. Determined.

OSLO SetWe trust in Joel, our director, as he compromises and cajoles, suggests and demands. We trust in our actors as they vigorously fight for what they want and generously give what they have. We trust in our designers to bring to life the drawings and ideas that have percolated for months. And we trust in our stage managers to bring all of these puzzle pieces together into a production worthy of the story we are telling.

The puzzle is almost finished. The darkness is fading. And soon you will join us in the light.

Above: The Oslo Team during technical rehearsals at the CAA Theatre


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