March 15, 2016

On Time

Towards the end of the Summer. rehearsal on Saturday, Caroline asks: Is time slowing down or speeding up?

One of the performers answers: Time is dragging for me at the moment.

I find it fascinating that our basic measures of time are the same (60 seconds in a minute, 24 hours in a day, 52 weeks in a year) but our experiences of time are so different. For me, time is definitely speeding up. 2016 seems to be moving incredibly quickly, January and February have passed in a blur, and I have an increasing awareness that around me the seasons are changing: It is brighter in the mornings and lighter in the evenings, the trees on the main road are beginning to blossom, and yellow daffodils line the paths of the park I walk through on the way to rehearsals. It feels, to me, like spring has appeared from nowhere.

The shows opens one week tomorrow and rehearsals have moved from the studio space at HOME to Old Granada Studios, where Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. will premiere. This old television studio is best known as the original home of Coronation Street, and echoes of its perhaps more glamorous past can still be found in the “RECORDING” signs on the doors, and in the painted patchwork floor, which once marked out onscreen living rooms, pubs and shops. Over the last seven days, this massive, now empty, studio has been transformed into a space for a different kind of performance. The set has arrived, the dance floor is laid, the projector screen is suspended, and next Monday the seating bank will be assembled.

I write most of this post at the Saturday rehearsal where Caroline posed her question about time. We begin at 11am and end at 5pm. In the morning there is a Spring. rehearsal and in the afternoon a rehearsal for Summer., with a shared lunch for all performers in between. There is no clock or natural light in the studio (and I have been meaning to replace my watch battery since around 2012), so during rehearsal my awareness of time comes mainly from the announcements of others:

“Okay. Lunch time”

“We’ll start again in five minutes, so if you need the loo then now is your time”

“We’ll stop there, we’ve run over… it’s a little after 5pm”

In between these announcements, for me, time passes something like this:

Technicians wire up microphones, place them on stands and test their volume. We all sit on orange chairs. There is the buzz of the working lights (on this day, a constant) and the gentle hum of the projector. Six pregnant ladies sit at a table downstage left. One performer, at the back of the stage, has a conversation with Sonia about fetal development. Two performers share a microphone to answer questions, prompted by Leentje, who stands and then sits (at the table downstage left). Lunch break. In the canteen the tables are decorated with brightly coloured flowers. There is the smell of fresh spices and sound of lively dialogue (I find myself involved in conversations about long distance relationships, train travel, trips to Japan, social anxiety, and inscriptions in books). Two young people play keepy-uppy with an inflated silver balloon. An older woman puts on her glasses. A running order is laid out at the front of the performance space (written on individual cards so moments can still be moved). There are three empty tables upstage left. Two men sit against the back wall; they look tiny in the vast space; one wears a waistcoat, the other wears a grey fleece; the man on the left scratches his ear. A song plays that I know will get stuck in my head. There’s a gentle collision between some runners. Everyone has a different style of running. There are two people out of place in a lineup. Today I count seven pairs of jeans (blue and black), two pairs of patterned trousers, sixteen pairs of trainers, two pairs of coloured tights, one polo neck, one elephant print shirt, and a pair of sequined shoulder pads. Toilet break. There is a silence engineered by the creative team. Two women, both quite small, stand in the centre and close their eyes (the one on the left is smiling infectiously), and I try to imagine what they might be thinking. An older woman in a peach blouse dances energetically with her arms in the air. To the side there are bags and boxes full of objects. A 16 year old girl holds a microphone and answers a series of questions. There is a clearing of the space.

– by Sarah Hunter.

[Image by Kate Daley]

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