The Plough and the Stars 2010 Blog

Aisling Mooney, Production Manager gives an insight into the making of The Plough and the Stars

Week 4 and 5

Rehearsals continued in the rehearsal room with a run of the play each day to time it and allow the Director to watch the flow of the action. This can be incredibly hard work for stage management as it involves setting up the whole show from the start without the advantage of space that you might have in the theatre.

The Artistic director sits in on one of these runs to get a feel for the directors’ choices and this is the first step for the actors in performing for an audience, besides stage management.
While the rehearsal continues the technical fit-up begins. The previous show Bookworms was dismantled and put in a truck on Monday and then lighting team de-rigged the lights from
that show and began rigging the lights for Plough.

Tuesday we put in the set and the construction manager from the workshop supervised the build. Wednesday rigging of Lx continued and the Towers for lighting were constructed. Thursday was the focus day and the Lighting team focused each lamp to the designers’ requirements. This continued into Friday while sound began to load and listen to some of the effects and music for the show. Moving the furniture and props from the rehearsal room began in the afternoon.

Friday night we began to tech the cloths for the first half of the show so that they would run smoothly when we had the cast on stage for their technical rehearsals on the set with lights, sound and flying.

I’ve just sat down for two minutes with half an hour of tech time left till the dress rehearsal. It’s been a really busy week and a half.

Aisling Mooney

Week 3

We’re gearing up towards the tech week now and schedules and dates are being signed off. This involves a meeting with each department checking that they will be able to finish their work in the time allotted so as not to slow down the next group in.

The props department found a pram which was used in previous productions and the designer liked it and its now being used in the rehearsal room. Props however also wanted to use it for an exhibition in Dundrum Shopping centre which The Abbey has set up with costumes and props from Plough through the years. Rehearsals won out though and other props were chosen for the exhibition. Well worth a look though from the 12th – 18th July.

The construction manager came over for a site visit. The Abbey Stage has three lifts in the centre of it 8.6 metres x 1.9 metres which for this production will drop down two metres and a raised platform will span across the three lifts. It was important that the construction manager was familiar with the lifts and the stage area. With flight delays he only made it in for a few hours but it was very constructive time.
The final images are due to the printers for the cloths this week so work to finish sourcing and cleaning up of the images continued on Monday. They’ve gone to print now so cannot be changed.
The guns used in the show are replica guns and the sourcing of them continued this week by stage management. We’ll need to get some photographed for the designer’s approval.

The costume designer and Hair and make-up person will sit down next week to discuss styles and make-up. Than these will all have to be finalised by July 16th as we start teching on the 17th. The tech is the time when we bring together the technical aspects of the show with the set, blocking and cast. Lighting, sound and flying should be given preference on these days in order to build the technical side of the show. We will tech for three days finishing with a Dress rehearsal on the 20th July. Fingers crossed all the preparation will pay off then.

More next week.
Aisling Mooney – Production Manager

Week 2

The week began with a trip to the builders. I met up with the designer and we took the model pieces to the construction workshop to discuss scenic finishes and texturing of the set. The design includes six cloths so the finish on these and the ageing and colouring is very important. The scenic artist was very enthusiastic and discussed various methods and techniques for the flags and back cloths. We continued to discuss the build and recommended a site visit for the builders next week.

Tuesday the designer was in Dublin and it gave props and furniture a chance to sit down with him to discuss the progress so far. The designer took a trip out to the stores and chose some more pieces of furniture for the director and cast to try out in the rehearsal room.

We spent a lot of this week fitting out a rehearsal room which would be bigger and have more natural light. It will give us the ability to hang some of the cloths in rehearsal room and to have free standing girders where they will be on set. Setting up a new rehearsal room has its problems and all the furniture chosen yesterday will need to be moved again on Monday when we relocated to the new rehearsal space.

Costume fittings continued this week and a number of the cast were fitted for a photo shoot which took place on Tuesday. The photos were fantastic and the cast were delighted with their costumes so far.
Thursday morning was the production meeting which is a chance for all the departments to sit down and discuss the show. The costume designer would like to use a beautiful old lace nightdress and the possibility of having blood in this scene was discussed. The props department here have come up with a very good recipe for blood which will wash out, but lace can be tricky. Lighting and sound also seem to be progressing nicely and the meeting felt quiet productive.

More next week.

Aisling Mooney – Production Manager

Week 1

First day back after the Bank Holiday and the Abbey staff and The Plough and the Stars cast and creative team have gathered in the Abbey Rehearsal room. The Artistic Director Fiach Mac Conghail welcomes us all and gives a special mention to any cast new comers to the Abbey as is the tradition, and then we begin to read the play. I always feel really privileged having the play read by the actors on day one as the play begins to come to life through the voices in the room.

The cast get to see the model of the set for the first time today and get to chat with the designer about the design concept. Each play is different and each Plough is different. The costume department found a shawl used in the 1976 production, worn by Siobhan Mc Kenna who played Bessie Burgess, which is almost 100 years old so exactly from the period. Will it make to the stage for this production?
We are keeping the archive department busy also with questions about 1916 and other productions through the years. But the excitement about doing this play within the building is tangible.
As the stage is raised 250mm we will erect a floor in the rehearsal room of steel deck risers to replicate this and add doors, steel girders and washing lines over the next few weeks. The props department and stage management have gathered rehearsal props for the rehearsal room. The songs in the play are being recorded for the cast this week too. Everyone made a stab at these in the read through but there’s still work to do. Having a voice coach in the Abbey means the cast can have some one on one time to work on breathing, accent and colour in the voice. This work has also begun this week with scheduled warm ups and group voice sessions.

More next week.

Aisling Mooney – Production Manager

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