Curtains and characterisation

Last night’s Iolanthe rehearsal was fun, because we had our first look at the costumes we’ll be wearing.  For the peers (I am one), this consists of a heavy cloak (which feels like it’s made from an old curtain and weighs about half a tonne) and a coronet (as well as black trousers and a white shirt – but we’ll be providing those ourselves and probably not bothering with them until the dress rehearsal).  Rather than just seeing the costumes and trying them on, we wore them for the rehearsal as this gives us a chance to get used to moving in them.  Some of the moves, such as sweeping the cloak to accompany singing the words “bow, bow, ye lower middle classes” (one of my favourite lines in the chorus part, despite my egalitarian leanings), can’t really be done without the costumes and it’s also useful to know what movements we can’t achieve while wearing them.

Those of us who remembered also brought the shoes we’ll be wearing for the performance, as one of the more seasoned actors within the company recommended this as being an excellent way of helping you to get into character.  It’s also useful, as with wearing the cloaks or other parts of the costumes (probably less of an issue for the fairies with their wings, but certainly applicable to their wands), for establishing what is and isn’t possible when dressed for the part.

Initially, I must confess, I was somewhat sceptical about the value of wearing my performance shoes during a rehearsal but when I actually tried it I found that the combination of the shoes and the cloak did help me to get into the character of a rather proud and condescending upper-class twit that the role calls for.

There’s only about a month now until the show itself (28th to 31st March) and the growing awareness of our increasingly limited rehearsal time seems to be doing wonders for everyone’s concentration.  I think it will indeed be alright on the night.

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