The 67A bus stop on Westmorland St. is one of my new favourites. Waiting for the bus out to Castletown House with the cast of Soh I recognised a familiar feeling from years ago. That magic School-Tour feeling. Where your lunch is packed away – and slightly more exciting than a regular day’s lunch – where your friends are beside you, ready for the adventure of wherever the bus will bring you. It’s about forty minutes out to Cellbridge when there’s no traffic. This amazed me at first because you’re immersed in the country by the time you arrive, the last ten minutes of the trip bring fields and small rows of houses and more fields (I may be exaggerating slightly for effect here, there’s a Spar and a Centra and banks and things too.. I mean you could get a hot chicken roll if you wanted one).
The benefits of getting out of town are manifold. The walk up to Castletown House clears your head – there’s just trees and fresh air and kids and dogs and things. It’s like walking through Phoenix park to get to rehearsals. There’s less chance of distraction and more of a commitment to the day’s work from everyone involved. You arrive together, warm up together, work together, eat together, leave together. You can’t help but build an ensemble from the experience.
The room on the top floor that we were lucky enough to use is perfect for purpose. But maybe that’s not generous enough… it’s brilliant. It’s spacious, quiet, bright (the holy trilogy of rehearsal space) AND equipped with tables and chairs. So we settled in very quickly and made it much less quiet pretty fast.
We have been a part of the Simply SPACE Programme twice now, once for Andy Warhol’s Nothing Special and then recently for Soh – our upcoming Absolut Fringe show. The processes for these rehearsal in Castletown were very different. With Andy we were re-rehearsing the play for it’s trip to the Belltable in Limerick. This made the size of the space immediately useful as we workshopped the characters with Dan Colley – who was re-cast in the place of Kate Kennedy for the part of Andy. When we got to blocking, there was plenty of scope for movement and experiment within the space which was invaluable.
For Soh we were in Castletown House at the very beginning of our rehearsals and so(h) we started out with table work to tease out the script, discussing it in great detail with James. Because our days in the space were 10.30 to 4.30 we had enough time to move ideas from the discussion into workshop. This was important, I think, for everyone to really get their teeth into the characters and plot. This work has served as a solid foundation for us to continue building the play on once we moved back to the hectic hub of Dublin. Working with new writing can be tricky if you haven’t got that base to start from.
I hope we’ll be back to Castletown House to visit The Performance Corporation and to make the most of their generous offer of SPACE again. It certainly counts as the only place I’ve ever felt under dressed for rehearsals.. but once you get over the palatial surroundings I reckon the grandeur fuels a shared ambition you bring to the room as a group. And anyway, now that I’m in the know about where the 67A goes it has been added to my – day out destinations – list.
Maeve Stone – Director and Co-founder of Spilt Gin.