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Cock rehearsal blog | The first day

Behind the Scenes /

It is an MTC tradition to have a morning tea on the first day of a production’s rehearsals. Staff gather with the new show’s cast, crew and creatives in the MTC HQ cafe so that they have the opportunity to meet and mingle over delicious treats (the egg and bacon sandwiches are a regular favourite). For some larger productions (such as 2013’s The Crucible) the crowd can be spilling into the corridor as the director introduces not only a long list of cast members but also the team working behind the scenes. The morning tea for Cock was a much smaller affair – four cast members as well as seven creatives and crew members. Still, the cafe was filled to the brim with staff eager to welcome this new team, have an egg and bacon sandwich, and celebrate the first full working week of 2014.

Leticia introduces the team PLBlog7.jpg

Immediately following, the production team lock themselves away in one of the rehearsal rooms on site for a round table reading. On Monday morning the walls of Rehearsal Room 2 have already been covered with various images of set and costume designs, as well as thematic inspiration. Blu-tacked to the wall, between two set model pictures, is an image of a cockfighting ring.

There’s a certain excited energy in the room as the five-week rehearsal process officially commences. With a shiver of anticipation and perhaps a whimper of nerves, the first reading takes place in a warm and friendly environment as the group, each with their own role and skill set, begin to gel. There are laughs and gasps, tense silences and irrepressible fits of giggles, all accompanied by the inevitable puns spun from the play’s title. Even at this early stage it is obvious that each member of this collaborative effort has brought a unique perspective to Mike Bartlett’s work.

Rehearsal walls

To begin, Tom Conroy (playing the role of John) moves seat so he can better position himself between Angus Grant (M) and Sophie Ross (W). Despite being the first reading in rehearsal, the actors speak their lines with confidence, playing with tone and intonation, as well as varying gestures and facial expressions, as they verbally spar across the table. Mike Barlett’s play forgoes stage directions, allowing the language to flow without interruption while the creative team scribble notes in their scripts. The result is Noël Coward-esque – witty exchanges which are simultaneously funny and biting. Even without stage directions and design elements, the humour and emotional resonance of the script is starkly evident.

Marg Horwell (Set and Costume Designer) is on her laptop, recording certain lines that hint at sets, costumes and props, while Rachel Burke (Lighting Designer) notes lighting cues throughout her script quickly as the cast turn their pages. Leticia has slipped into a state of utter concentration, broken by regular bursts of laughter.

As the reading concludes there is a round of applause, followed by a sense of relief (‘Now I’ve finally got my head around Cock,’ jokes cast member Tony Rickards) mixed with a palpable eagerness to delve deeper into this Olivier award-winning play over the next few weeks.

You can follow the rehearsal process for Cock on our Facebook or Twitter. You can also hear directly from the team:

Leticia Cáceres
Tom Conroy
Angus Grant
Missy Higgins
Marg Horwell
THE SWEATS

… and don’t forget to include the hashtag #mtcCock to join the conversation!

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