Arturo Ui Blog
David Champion is one of four supernumeries (playing other gangsters and citizens) who successfully auditioned to perform in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui from 29 June - 28 July in the Minerva Theatre.
David has taken some time out to keep us updated as to how rehearsals are going in his blog below:
Rehearsal diary 21 June
'Today’s the day. Our first rehearsal with the cast of ARTURO UI. Am I actually really doing this? I arrived at the Theatre in good time and stood outside the Rehearsal Room, pinched myself and walked in. I was greeted by the Company Manager, Marcus, who introduced me to a few of the Cast members who were already there.
I couldn’t believe that I was sitting in the Minerva Theatre rehearsal room. As more of the cast arrived it became more and more surreal. So wait David, In a week, I will be stepping onto that Minerva stage…the stage where many greats have also stepped. I couldn’t believe it, but yes, in just over a week, I too will be on that very same stage.
Jonathan Church (the Artistic Director of the Theatre and Director of the production), came over and had a few words with us. He told us the procedure for today and what we’d be doing: "We’ll run the Scene you guys are in, and then we will see where you guys can fit”. As the minutes went on, this was all getting more and more real.
I was amazed at how amazing the scene was and they were only in rehearsal. No real props, no costume, no lights, no sound and it was (from my eyes) faultless. I was blown away by how talented all of these actors were, but David yes, we’re not at no ‘Am Dram’ rehearsal now. These people know what they’re doing, every single split-second they’re on that stage. They’re incredible and such massive inspirations to aspiring professionals like myself.
Jonathan Church put us in our places and ran through our blocking for what we’d be doing. All of the Cast were so nice in helping us through. I’ve learnt so much just from one run through. Henry Goodman (Arturo Ui), Michael Feast (Roma) and the rest of the cast, were all so lovely in helping us through, it was mentally uplifting to be performing alongside these fine, fine actors. I still can’t quite believe it.
We ran through the scene a good few times before Jonathan okayed everything. It was a great feeling. My first scene in a professional show. Done. That’s not something you can say to yourself every day is it, David?
"Okay guys, take 10", Jonathan said. All four of the Extras sat down and continued to watch the rest of the days' rehearsal. For me (personally) it was a moment of pure joy. As any actor will say: To be performing alongside true professionals (who have been in this industry for years) is a dream come true. I myself (from only a day’s rehearsal) have learnt an astonishing amount. I’m so looking forward to Tech week and all of the performances that we’re going to do. I know it’s going to be a really great, rewarding, piece of Theatre, that everyone should definitely come and see.
As I walked out of the rehearsal room, I pinched myself again, this time quite a few times, and took a quick glance at the large Minerva sign on the side of the building and smiled. Any passer-by would of thought I’d just won the lottery. This, is really happening. Roll on the next rehearsal, I say!'
Rehearsal diary 25th June
'Today was our first Technical rehearsal (rehearsal two) for Arturo Ui. Our call was for 2.30pm but I couldn’t help being there a good two hours before. I headed into town and began to prepare myself for the day ahead. It’s still not quite sunk in, and to be perfectly honest I don’t think it’ll sink in until quite a while after the show has finished its run at Chichester.
A 2.15pm we headed into the Theatre and was fitted up properly with all of our costumes. We all have a fair few costume changes from our big dark Gangster suits to our heavy blue Police outfits. It’s such a pleasure to be able to wear this outfits day in day out and to perform on the Minerva stage. I think all of us Extras are looking forward to all of those quick costume changes.
The Technical rehearsal is designed to establish entrances/exits and for the lighting and sound department to perfect their cues. It’s a slow process that often requires a lot of backtracking but it’s all vitally necessary for a successful production.
Two of the Extras are in the first scene (after the prologue) as Shoeshine boys. There’s a fairly large gap and then the other two Extras are on in scene four as bodyguards.
It’s such a privilege and an honor to be able to act alongside these fine actors. All of us are constantly learning and constantly being able to develop ourselves as young actors. And the great thing about it all, is that we get to do it over and over again. I couldn’t ask for better experience than what I’m currently getting.
A few more pinches are required I think David...Roll on rehearsal number 3!'
Technical rehearsals & dress rehearsals 26 - 29 June
Over the course of four days we had a combination of technical rehearsals and two dress rehearsals. A dress rehearsal is for all of the actors to treat the rehearsal as if it was an actual show. There are no substitute for props/costume in a dress run everything is done as if we had a proper paying audience in.
The technical rehearsal were long 12/13 hour days. The dress runs only last as long as the actual performance which in this case is near the 3hr mark.
To perform the show without stopping after every scene with everything: lights, sound, costume was such a joy. As actors we know where it's going to end up but it's great to be involved with the whole journey of the show and to finally see the whole production progress forward.
Our first preview is just around the corner...
First Preview 25th June
First preview. Is. Here. Wow. This is it. All of the work before hand, has now built up to this. In just under an hour we are going to be running the show in front of (near on) a full house. As we begin to slowly get more and more nervous it begins to finally sink in. All of us are just so excited and can't wait to perform. It's great to be surrounded by actors who just love the craft of acting and it's clearly visible on stage. Jonathan Church gave us some great notes after the dress run and I think all of the cast are ready to execute them onstage so we can better our show even more.
The feeling after first preview is one that I can't explain. It's a mixture of relief and pure, pure joy. It's such a milestone is my life right now to say I've performed alongside some of the best in the business and I'm so blessed and so very fortunate that I've been given this opportunity. Chichester festival theatre ROCKS!!!!
Press Night/Opening Night
Press Night is such an important night for any theatre, let alone Chichester. Essentially it's the night when all the newspaper/magazine companies come to see our show and then publish a review. There was a certain edge to everyone before the show (as expected, this is the night when either we sell out the next two weeks, or the room echoes on a curtain call).
Me being as keen as anything, I decided to head in a good two and a half hours before curtain up. I walked into our Ensemble dressing room and was amazed to see opening night gifts on my desk. It was lovely. There was a fantastic card from Henry Goodman (Ui) which he signed, and a small bottle of a Whisky. Don't mind if I do. It's so lovely to be a part of a company that really do get on so well. For me, it's what makes a show. If the cast have a good relationship off of the stage then it makes the production even better.
The night was fantastic. The show went very smoothly. We had a 5* review from the Daily Telegraph. 5 stars! Wow, this is incredible. The Times floated in next with a very healthy 4* review. Across the board, Arturo Ui was an explosive HIT with everyone...even the Daily Mail. That's when you know you've got a good show.
The Final Week
The final week is now here. All of the Cast and Crew are at a stage now where they're just simply enjoying the experience, and rightly so in my opinion. I can't believe that this time next week it'll all be over. The run has gone tremendously fast and I really can't believe how fortunate and how blessed I was to be given this opportunity by the Theatre. I'm currently a BA Drama student in Lancaster, and I've learnt so much from this experience. To just sit and watch these amazing amazing amazing professionals is such a joy. It is these people who we look up to and if anything great happens to me in my life, it is people like these whom I will have to thank. BIG TIME!
For me this is the most exciting venue in the UK because there's always an enormous sense of excitement here, everywhere. Chichester Festival Theatre will always be a place I return to, because, I think all will agree with me, it's fun, creative and full of heart, which is what theatre is all about. How can you expect to create a good piece of theatre without heart? You can't. That is why Chichester gets it right, every single time!
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui plays in the Minerva Theatre from 29 June - 28 July.
(Supernumerary actors are usually amateur actors who appear in our productions in crowd scenes or take non-speaking small parts. They work under professional direction to help create a believable scene.)