I was recently fortunate enough to be cast in two consecutive ADP rehearsed readings. The first was at 53Two in Manchester city centre and the second was at the well-known Kings Arms Salford. But I had a guilty secret.
I thoroughly enjoyed both productions, not only from the point of view of the actual performances, but the whole buzz that surrounds putting on a production with scant rehearsal and the need to make bold choices in a short space of time.
The whole process of getting a production from the page to the stage is gratifying for an actor at several points along the way. Firstly there’s the thrill of being cast at all; knowing that someone has seen something that they like in you and is willing to put even a small part of their production in your hands.
Then there’s the fun of getting to know your character. Playing with voices and choices before turning up to that all-important first rehearsal, followed by that, sometimes awkward, moment of meeting the director and the rest of the cast. Looking your fellow players in the eye and hoping that you’ll get along.
Rehearsals give the chance to get to know everyone and to mould the disparate characters into a performance worthy of what the writer had in mind at the time of writing; time for the director to bring together the various ingredients and to turn them into a dish worth tasting.
In a traditional environment this process takes place over weeks or sometimes months, but that’s not the ADP way. Manchester ADP distils the essence of the theatrical journey and serves it up to the actor in a concentrated form. If the normal process is a skinny latte, the ADP experience is a double espresso with a spoonful of caffeine thrown in for good measure! The full nine yards compressed into a twenty-four hour inch.
So, having gone through the first performance without a hitch, I confessed the truth to my fellow players and our director, the delightful Kayleigh Ruth Hawkins. I hadn’t wanted to tell them before the performance, lest it put the fear of God into them, worried that I’d fall to bits with fright as the curtain went up.
The truth of the matter was that my last appearance live on stage was playing Judas in an abortive production of Jesus Christ Superstar some 41 years ago! Yes, I acted between the ages of 5 and 18 and yes, I’ve spent the last couple of years re-kindling my love for the craft by acting in a host of local screen roles. But there’s no substitute for that instant feedback when performing in front of a live audience. There’s nobody to shout “cut!” You’re out there with all eyes on you and the rest of the cast depending on you to play your part. It may have been 41 years since I was last on stage, but it felt like it was yesterday. Thanks to Kayleigh and to Rose Van Leyenhorst for casting me and thanks to Manchester ADP for making it all possible. It won’t be 41 years until the next one!