Day Ten

Posted: 2020-05-27 12:00:00


27th May

Back down into the tunnels beneath no mans land and of course its one of the hottest days of the years to be pretending we are inhabiting a space where there is absolutely no light whatsoever. Tom, Tim and I spent a couple of hours running what is a climatic scene in the play.

Firebrace and Wraysford end up trapped beneath the ground with only each other and the prospect of an almost certain slow death as company. We ended up turning off the cameras entirely for half of it- letting the voices and the heavy laboured breathing tell the story- rather effectively as it turns out. By the time we had run it a few times both actors were pretty exhausted. It isn’t a scene that can be done without really attacking the emotion coursing through it. The battle is just reducing the volume- literally and metaphorically for the intimacy of a webcam style recording. Every twitch and movement registers. So it took a bit of ironing out some habits learnt from the stage version.

The evening saw James at work with Charlotte, Liam, Max, Timand Tom on another pivotal scene which is what we call ‘the letters’. To the non birdsong family this is the moment the night before the battle when the men write their last letters home to their families. James sings that very haunting Irish folk song previously mentioned called ‘Ned of the Hill’ and combined with the emotive words of the men its all rather powerful. Or it should be.

Watching the rushes later that night- you could see it really working with the actors doing some fine work. We have to decide how to cross the stage to screen rubicon- the theatricality that works so brilliantly on stage can easily seep into melodrama and jingoism on a close up screen shot. So it will need very careful handling in the edit. But you see the potential of it all coming through- which was rather encouraging.

Tomorrow we tackle some more tricky scenes and a few shorter ones as we close out the rehearsals over the next 36 hours. Costumes have started arriving, some don’t fit, guns are being collected by courier James (doubling up from his role as MD) and we hope it comes together in time for filming on Friday morning.

In other news as if a kick squarely to the teeth we were rejected by The Arts Council for emergency funding.  This was a crucial life line for the coming months, without it we are really in dire straits and the pressure on Birdsong performing well when it is released has doubled over night.

And we still don’t have the rights sorted…