Rehearsals are well under way for Next Door But One’s latest production : Laura Wade’s 90 minute masterpiece, ‘Colder Than Here’. Actress Anna Rogers, who plays Jenna Bradley in the play, gives us a peek into rehearsal life, how it feels to bring the subject of death into the theatrical space and what she’s learning about herself through playing her character.
Laura Wade’s ‘Colder Than Here’ – what a dream play to work on. Not only does it tick all the boxes for an actor; plenty of drama, humour, depth and a taboo subject, but I get to play a whirlwind of a woman , Jenna, whose complicated and messy life is forced into order as she faces her mothers imminent death. Big stuff and super gritty. Like I say, a dream play! I’ll be honest I was expecting by now to be feeling a bit heavy emotionally in rehearsals , what with the enormity of the subject matter : death, and knowing how much of myself I invest in the roles I play, but I have to say as a cast we all seem to be feeling pretty light and most of all relishing every second of the process. In fact I think we’re all a little bit in love with Colder Than Here. One thing we are definitely doing a lot of is laughing. Not what you’d expect rehearsing a play about a dying woman but that’s the beauty of Laura Wade’s writing. Utter gold dust and so liberating to perform. NDB1 as a company are known for tackling taboo subjects and delivering performances that open up difficult but important conversations, so Colder Than Here fits the bill beautifully.
A large chunk of our rehearsals have been spent forging past memories and connections between the characters as a family, improvving scenarios to help us find ‘the moment’ in each scene before we begin blocking it. I LOVE this. As an actress, I find this the most useful way of developing depth and meaning behind the relationships between the characters. It’s also a fab way to warm up before the scene. There are a lot of giggles, tears and ‘moments’ in themselves throughout this process. It’s also a very safe space for us as actors to freely play about with our characters and emotions, something our director Matt is very encouraging of. Understanding the whys and what’s of the plays themes and words are crucial to us tapping into that extra special something that we as a company can bring to the production. So the more we play with it the more we can bring!
A surprising revelation for me throughout this rehearsal period has been just how much I can actually draw upon personally in relation to playing Jenna. The ‘Jenna- isms’ are becoming second nature now and my initial impression of her has definitely altered. She’s absolutely not what she seems and she is actually a very loveable tough cookie … just a very blunt, messy and misunderstood one.
*Something I’m learning : Humour is a fabulous way to address taboo subjects such as death.
*Favourite lines : ‘ Fuck off being fucking reasonable’ , ‘Don’t forget your arse bag’.
*Biggest Challenge so far : Operating a laptop onstage … I am clearly not a tech multi tasking actress!
Colder Than Here is showing at York Cemetery Chapel Saturday 11th May, 7.30pm and Sunday 12th at 2pm , as well as St Nick’s Reserve on Friday 17th May, 7.30pm and Saturday 18th May, 7.30pm.
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