Director Lindsay Posner finds something primal and truly disturbing in Arthur Miller’s play
The day’s rehearsal is about to commence. The actors sit or stand around chatting, telling anecdotes, prevaricating, pouring one last cup of coffee — anything to avoid the moment when they have to begin committing emotionally and psychologically to Arthur Miller’s text. Why, I ask myself, is A View from the Bridge proving so difficult to rehearse? This is not due to laziness on the part of the company, but an awareness that the play’s action unfolds as relentlessly and remorselessly as any Greek tragedy; demanding intensities of emotional and psychological expression which crash through conventional barriers and resonate in the world of myth. To have rehearsed Miller’s text and mined its complexities means to have come into contact with something primal and truly disturbing. Thank God for tea-breaks!
I reassure the actors that our imminent run-throughs and indeed performances in the theatre will be liberating and less draining than rehearsals. In a rehearsal one has to repeat, for only through repetition can the osmosis of a character and his or her physical and psychological journey be developed and fully realised. Through repetition comes freedom. The continual re-enactment of guilt towards wife and family, suppressed sexual desire for one’s niece, and the self-destructive betrayal of tribal law can become exhausting — even for the experienced Ken Stott, who plays Eddie Carbone. Dread of my words ‘one more time’ makes him long for a fag-break. Things will certainly become easier when we move into the theatre and the actors undergo their journeys only once a night — in front of a live audience whose attentive energy both crystallises their performances and feeds into adrenaline levels.
I write this during the latter stages of rehearsal, but the process began rather differently.