Elin has written this week’s blog post on her experiences working on Anna Jordan’s POP MUSIC over the past few months – and she’s done so in a suitably poppy manner!
I’m Elin, the Assistant Director on POP MUSIC, Paines Plough’s new show by Anna Jordan. POP MUSIC is a joyous roller coaster celebrating the last thirty years of pop. From Whitney to Oasis to Clean Bandit, there is something for everyone.
We are about to take this slice of pop magic on the road where we will be performing at venues across the country, so I thought I would sit down and fill you in on what has happened so far!
It’s not every Monday that you come to work and learn the entire choreography for Single Ladies, but at Paines Plough HQ it’s becoming pretty standard. The office workers across the road are marvelling at our twerking and a pop party playlist of dreams is pouring out of the rehearsal room (thank you Anna Jordan).
We have a cast of three, the brilliant Katherine Kotz, Rakesh Boury and Ciaran Alexander Stewart. Together they are going to tell this brilliant story whilst integrating BSL into the production (including sign within the choreography!) I have been learning a bit of BSL too, including the sign for ‘Madonna’ and ‘MJ’. As the Assistant Director, I am making sure I know the show inside and out. I am making notes on all of the routines, the blocking and the rhythm of the words and how they fit with the songs. We are about to do a rehearsal room run for the Paines Plough team. It’s nerve-wracking but we are ready to put it in front of an audience. Roll on Latitude!
The tents are up, the glitter is packed and we have arrived at Latitude with 100 metallic balloons and the biggest glitter ball I have ever seen. The Theatre Tent is gigantic, and we are waiting for the first performance, glow stick in hand! This performance is captioned as well as having BSL integration, which is great because as well as making it accessible, it means that we can sing-a-long to our favourite pop tunes, karaoke style. The audience are amazing, they dance and sing and shed a tear and we head back outside just in time for The Killers’ set!
We are getting back to it after a break. Anna has had a baby and he is amazing. We are in rehearsals again at Paines Plough HQ to recap the show and make it bigger and better than before. The week is up and before we know it we are Birmingham-bound, heading to the REP for the start of our technical rehearsals. These rehearsals are very important for this show because the action is built around the music. The text is intricately woven in and out of songs so getting the microphones at the right level and making sure every word can be heard is crucial! We are ready to open the show and everyone is excited. The audience stick around after the curtain call to dance on the stage! We go and celebrate in the only way that feels appropriate … a night at Pop World!
The show closes at the REP, but we aren’t quite ready to leave Birmingham. We are taking POP MUSIC on a community tour of Birmingham and the West Midlands. The spaces are not always theatre spaces, and some of them are smaller than our space at the REP. I rework some of the blocking with the cast for smaller spaces with different entrances and exits and we perform to new audiences.
We are welcoming the fantastic Vedi Roy this week who is going to play G on the POP MUSIC national tour as we say Bye Bye Bye to Rakesh (turn of the century NSYNC, anyone?) This is where my note taking throughout rehearsals is going to be very useful because Director James is away, and I am in charge of bringing Vedi up to speed and getting him ready for his first performance, which is fast approaching. We can’t wait to see him out there on the stage with the team!