Tamasha Developing Artist Anna Carr has been observing ‘Snookered’ rehearsals.
It’s the end of the third week of rehearsals, and everybody is gearing themselves for the weekend move up to Oldham. At the start of this week the rehearsal room was shaken up by the fight director Kevin, who was watching with an eye on the physical stories between the characters. As an observer, watching the director, and all the actors, I feel placed in a strange, masculine setting and as a real outsider as a female in the room. There are moments when I feel like I shouldn’t be listening, or watching, and I remember how rare it is to be a fly on the wall in this kind of situation, and why I believe the play will be so compelling to watch.
Asides from all the gender politics, and the differences between male and female behaviour, there is an addictive joy in watching a series of games being played on the poole table, and watching characters who really care about every shot. As much as the text of the script, it’s the reactions to each and every shot that matters and carry the play forward, and the elephants in the rehearsal room get larger when it becomes apparent that the lads aren’t playing the game, and get worried by their lines, what their drinking or blocking. Iqbal, likened the situation to crime series, The Wire to put across what he wanted, and asked the actors to find their soft eyes.
Det. William ‘Bunk’ Moreland: You know what you need at a crime scene?
Det. Shakima ‘Kima’ Greggs: Rubber gloves?
Bunk: Soft eyes.
Kima: Like I’m suppose to cry and shit?
Bunk: If you got soft eyes, you can see the whole thing. If you got hard eyes — you staring at the same tree missing the forest.
Kima: Ah, zen shit.
Bunk: Soft eyes, grasshopper
Like all of us, the actors have a tendency towards control; controlling their words, controlling their actions. But of course, the engaging moments are when the control is abandoned, as the unpredictable happens and the actors and us, share those moments of total surprise. Iqbal is very sensitive to this and has been constantly encouraging the actors to let loose, to be wrong, but, above all, to commit to every single action. He does this in a gentle and generous way, without wanting to be a puppeteer or dictator. I do feel for the actors though, they have so much to remember- they drink an equivalent of 4 pints by the end of the first scene alone, (and that’s not including shots of JD), they have to remember whose pool shot it is, whose round it is, and stick to the script and the game…and hold on to their bladders! “Soft eyes, boys”, says Jazz, as we leave theLondon rehearsal studios and know we will meet again inOldham to get ready for the curtain.