Bunker Blues blog – Tuesday 30th October 2012
October blues. Winter is on the way and the cold chill of the piercing, autumnal air is enough to make anybody whinge and moan about their day to day lives. However this is sharp put into perspective knowing that the rehearsal I am about to attend explores a time when people in Britain had a considerable amount more to worry about than the weather.
Approaching Mera Hall for my first ‘Bunker Blues’ rehearsal, the atmosphere around me changed. I was about to become a part of Theatre Auracaria’s latest venture into the portrayal of the lives of the vital WAAF aircrafts women during WW2.
This enthralling Reminiscence Theatre project is based around the stories of local women including 90 year old Kitty Brightwell; an aircraft’s women who worked in the local operations room ‘RAF 13 Group HQ Command Bunker’, otherwise known as Bunker 13 during the Battle of the Sea on 15th August 1940. The play invites the audience to take a unique insight into this day and world of the underground bunker which played such a vital role at the heart of this important operation during the war for Britain against Nazi Germany.
Rehearsals started with an energising warm up followed by the gifted actors Charlotte and Eva, who play Kathleen and Lily, dancing to the Lindy Hop. For those who don’t know this dance requires a huge amount of energy and the ability to do lots of kicks and swings – not for the unfit that’s for sure!
The sound of the ukulele, played by the extremely talented musician Jane, filled the hall which set the back track for the girls to dance too. As rehearsals continued, I was transported into the world of war time Britain, the famous songs from a life time that seems so foreign to a young woman living in peace in Britain today. ‘There May Be Trouble Ahead, ‘This is the Army Mr. Jones’ and ‘Now Is the Hour’ are combined with neatly choreographed sequences which add another dimension to the performance. The use of voice, musical instruments and props help to create a melodious backing track, which already in rehearsals is bringing life to the words on the page written by the enthusiastic director Amy Golding.
As the clock in Mera Hall ticked by, the afternoon was filled with the actors and the Amy working closely together on certain units; 16 and 17 to be precise. Blocking, changing lines and identifying the climax of each unit were explored in detail.
From units and blocking to the creation of timelines, it is clear that every sense of this process in carried out in fine detail. Amy then went on to work with Jane and I to plot the play’s action, the character’s memories throughout and the audience’s journey.
What is interesting to note, is that from this very first rehearsal for ‘Bunker Blues’ a true sense of ensemble has been established amongst the cast. A family has been formed throughout the process of creating this play which shines through in rehearsals – a trait which I am excited to see blossom in the performances of the play.