For this year’s Sixth Form play, Maddy and I chose ‘The Phlebotomist’ by Ella Road. This is a dystopian play set in a world where a single blood test dictates people’s entire lives, giving them a rating out of 10 based on their predicted medical health. The play centres on four characters attempting to navigate this new world and presents many ethical issues surrounding genetic testing which escalate throughout the play to a degree that is uncomfortably believable.
We began rehearsals in November last year and performed it twice in the first week of February... a timeframe which was especially daunting once we included the Christmas holiday and the fact that both directors and half the cast had A level mock exams in January! (Cast members were from LEH School and Hampton School).)We rehearsed as often as possible, including many dedicated Sundays at Maddy’s house, which we may not have stayed awake through if it weren’t for our frequent orders of food!
The play had an interesting structure that was new to Maddy and I for two reasons. Firstly, almost every scene in the play was a duologue, which was a huge challenge to the cast as it meant they had at least half the lines in all of their scenes, and as a result learning lines was tougher than in many plays, where lines are often shared between ten or so characters in each scene. Secondly, between each scene there was to be either a film or audio clip that helped create the play’s context, for example a news report or interview. This was certainly a challenge as neither Maddy or I had any real experience with filming or editing, and so this meant we had to create an entirely separate rehearsal/filming schedule for these ‘interlude’ scenes, also with an entirely different cast. Thankfully, we had a lot of help from our theatre manager, Mr Spry and the interlude clips ended up adding a depth to the play that could not have been achieved otherwise.
Overall, ‘The Phlebotomist’ was such a rewarding experience for Maddy and I. It was our first attempt at directing, and as much as it did cause an unbelievable amount of stress at times. For example, the day before our Tech run I was working in the Tech box - a small room in the Drama studio- whilst a lively Thirds’ lesson took place, frantically trying to edit together our film clips before my next lesson! But nothing beats that feeling of pride we felt sitting in the audience during our first performance, watching Sylvie, Luke, Alexa and Paul absolutely smashing it on stage! The tears of stress were thoroughly outweighed by the tears of joy we felt afterwards, and it was therefore one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at LEH, and I definitely hope to get another chance at directing one day.
By Thea (UVIF) - Co Director of 'The Phlebotomist)
Photos by Big Image Photography
- LEH Drama