Posted by: uncle
Today was 'bump in' day. The Gilgamesh bump in has been an absolute doozy right from the beginning. The total weight of dirt dug for Gilgamesh so far adds up to approximately 23 tonnes. By the end of the tour the tonnage will be over 40 !! Fortunately on tour there will be "mechs" to do the digging for us, but today we did it ourselves.
As painful as it is, there's a massachistic sense of pride that comes with shovelling the final load into the pit. And we managed to dig it in about 2 and a half hours, which is not bad considering the theatre is on the first floor. Happily there was a lift, even if it did sometimes have a mind of its own, stopping at whatever level it fancied.

The set looks great in the space, and the theatre dimensions are roughly the same as The Pit at The Barbican Centre, which we hope will provide as smooth a transition as we could hope for. Our tech help, Kat, was really fabulous. Very chilled and quietly efficient, which is the perfect temperament as far as I'm concerned.

The stress levels of a bump in are directly proportional to the number of surprises you get. The number of surprises today equalled precisely one. Fortunately we had brought with us some lumber that we accidentally bought. And that lumber ended up being exactly the size and shape we required. Lesson for Theatre number 21.9a: always accidentally buy too much lumber, and Lesson 21.9b: when somebody says, 'We don't need to bring that wood, we bought it by mistake,' make sure you take it anyway.
Posted by: uncle
If the first day was about re-visiting the big picture, the second day was about revisiting some small pictures, that in a sense we hadn't yet looked at.

Invariably in any process you can only spend so long on any given moment of the piece. Some things you feel couldn't improve significantly with more time, some things you feel can only be dimished by spending more time on it without the fire of an audience charging it, and other things you are satisfied with, but feel that with a bit of extra time spent you could really bring it into the first category.

The great thing about shows having further life is that you get the opportunity to move more things into the first and second categories from the third. The irony is that if a show gets the opportunity to be re-mounted numerous times beyond its original production, there were probably few things in the third category to begin with. But, of course, how much development a piece deserves to receive and in what forums is one of those eternal (unaddressed) questions of theatre, especially in Australia it seems. I remember seeing Robert Lepage's Seven Streams of the River Ota in Adelaide in one of its last seasons. It had been running for many years, and they had been re-working for every season according to the program. I remember being amazed. Now, I can't imagine not wanting to re-look at certain moments in a piece at every opportunity that comes. And in the case of the LePage piece, with seven hours of theatre there was bound to always be plenty of moments.

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Posted by: uncle
Rehearsal began this morning at 9am. We are using the Hoopla Room at the Malthouse, which is a really nice size for the work. Rooms can be really tricky at times. They can have such subtle and powerful effects on the way you work. We try to be really careful about choosing space, equally in rehearsal as in performance. Mostly though, it just comes down to price and availability.

We have decided to start this process contextually. I know it makes no sense to say that, but what I'm trying to say is that we have considered that the best way to re-build the show is to re-find its context. We want the performers to be drawing from fresh understandings and contexts for the piece, rather than the ones that we grew the piece with originally. When they delve into their creative reservoirs as they perform the piece, we don't want them drawing primarily from their understanding of what the piece meant 2 or 4 years ago. We want them drawing from current social contexts and our current rehearsal practice. Having said that, the show will be outwardly extremely faithful to the version at the Melbourne Festival. We just don't want the performers to performing from old bases of creativity. That would be death. They must be performing it for its relevance now.

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Posted by: uncle
Uncle Semolina(& friends) will be maintaining this blog for the duration of its international tour of Gilgamesh. The company will be beginning rehearsal very soon, and you can get all the updates here. In the meantime, our most asked question is about the schedule. So, to get you going, here’s the dates:

Melbourne Fringe Festival @ Guild Theatre, Melbourne Uni - Sep. 24th-26th @ 7pm

London Barbican Centre - Oct. 3rd-13th

Corn Exchange Newbury - Oct. 15th-17th

Beijing Oriental Pioneer Theatre - Nov. 1st-4th

Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre - Nov. 8th-11th

Sydney Opera House - Nov. 15th-24th

We'll be updating daily, so join us for the ride.