June 2, 2014, by Eve

A Play About Krapp: Before

Now that assessments are over my time has been taken up with helping with an upcoming New Theatre play: Krapp’s Last Tape. I have exchanged academia for art and pens for props. I’m there, officially, as the stage manager but I’ve been doing various odd jobs, like helping make the set – mostly painting boxes and stairs and, indirectly, a large portion of my clothes. If the production team was the crew of a pirate ship I would be the cabin boy.

Being in a New Theatre play is a lot of work – I’ve eaten a whole bag of (extra gingery) ginger biscuits in two days just to keep my energy levels up. But I’ve had it easy compared to the rest of the crew; they’ve let me go at 10pm latest whilst they’ve stayed on until about 5am! I really don’t know how they manage to function, let alone make creative decisions.

Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett is a very ambition production for a student theatre to put on – it’s a one man show, which places a huge amount of pressure on a student actor and, arguably, on the audience’s engagement with the piece. In terms of plot, it’s about an old man, suggestible in his last year of being, lamenting his disillusionment with life and loss of youth – rather a tough subject for lively, life-loving students to empathise with.

However, in my opinion, the director has pitched the play just right and the rehearsals I’ve seen have been of such a professional standard. The director has created an extremely intimate production, exaggerating a close between audience and actor through space and design which – as well as making tremendous use of the materials available to a student theatre maker- really fits the script and engages you in the action of the play. The main actor, too, is so energetic and moving. Plus his voice, on the recordings, sounds like Mark Rylance in the recent West End production of Endgame.

Ok, fine, maybe I’m a bit bias, I do really want the show to do well and I am quite a fan of Beckett – who, honestly, is not for everyone.

So, it’s opening night tonight – the final dress has finished and I’ve grabbed a starbucks drink and found a computer in Hallward before the call!

My job, during the performance, is to organise props and effects backstage – this could mean I have the most power over whether the play goes well or not, after the actor of course, but at the same time it also means I’m the most vulnerable. I keep worrying about what will happen if I drop something backstage during a really vital, emotional pause on stage (of which there are many)! I’ve already felt a sneeze coming on both runs – both at very similar moments in the script (suspicious…) – and I had to hold my nose!

Let’s hope it all goes well… break a leg to all involved!

The play is on Monday to Friday. More info on New Theatre Website.


Posted in Eve