We’ve recently finished working on Grimm Tales Retold, our latest collaboration with the Department of Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Throughout the rehearsal period, we worked with a brilliant ensemble of students to bring Phil’s script to life and we invited the cast to write guest blog posts about the process. Find out what happened during production week below.

You can also read about what happened during week one of rehearsals here, week two here, week three here, and week four here.

George Bandy
Monday 5th February, 6pm – 10pm

The first day of Production Week invariably carries with it a certain level of stress and panic – even more so when you are up at the crack of dawn for last minute logistics checking and polishing. Despite our usual warm-ups and icebreakers, this was the rehearsal where I, for one, knew that the performances were looming over us. We were particularly looking at refining the physical theatre sequences, including both the opening ‘Fox Hoodie’ routine, and the ‘Office Twat’ transitions. Since both sequences utilised the full cast, and involved large amounts of set/prop moving, these proved quite troublesome to perfect, and so we found ourselves drilling them to precision.

It was here that it struck me quite how far we had come as a company; the progression by each of us from our first day of rehearsals, a mere four weeks prior, to the standard I could now see in front of me, was remarkable.

Playing one of the Grimm brothers, I had less of a hand in these transitions, and so for once I had the opportunity to sit and watch the work of everyone else for a large part of the morning. It was here that it struck me quite how far we had come as a company; the progression by each of us from our first day of rehearsals, a mere four weeks prior, to the standard I could now see in front of me, was remarkable. Each person in the cast had come in with their own worries, concerns, strengths and weaknesses, but seeing each of my peers working together with such cohesion made me feel truly part of something special.

It was our last rehearsal in the rehearsal room, our home for the better part of a month, and leaving was bittersweet. What lay ahead in the theatre space once terrified me, but on Monday I knew that more than anything else, I was truly excited to share what we had accomplished with an audience, as we really did have something special.

Georgiana Poteiciuc
Monday 5th February, 6pm – 10pm (Tech Session 1)

OMG it’s our final week working on this amazing play with two more days to go before our first performance. How could we not be super excited? I know I’m beyond thrilled. This evening we had the first technical session focused on Act 1 and I was enchanted by how beautifully all the elements combined. It was different from any rehearsal because having the lights focused on you while everywhere else is dark gives you the necessary concentration to connect with your character as well as with the other characters on stage without a possible distraction from “the other world”. The production team was also there and served as audience for us which also helped with the atmosphere and it was the first time we rehearsed with our costumes on too. The whole team was extraordinary and really involved in this project, always ready to help us with any need.

Grimm Tales Retold has started to take its final shape and we’re all realising that it’s going to end so soon.

Grimm Tales Retold has started to take its final shape and we’re all realising that it’s going to end so soon and none of us want that because we are a family now. However, we don’t have much time to think about this yet, as we have four performances ahead and two more days to settle all the details. I am looking forward to showing to the audience this spectacular play that I know for sure they will fall in love with from the beginning.

Charlotte Biggs
Tuesday 6th February, 6pm – 10pm (Tech Session 2)

Charlotte here again for the final blog post for Grimm Tales Retold! I cannot believe how quickly this journey has gone and how it’s coming to an end, but it’s definitely been an exciting one.

We’ve now gone into production week for the shows, and it’s all becoming very real! We cannot wait to perform for everyone!

This blog post is for the second half of our technical rehearsal, which was for Act 2 of the show. With all the costume, lights, sound and set coming together, it’s easy to say that this is going to be a brilliant show. The show looks right at home in George Cadbury Hall, and you sometimes have to pinch yourself to remind you that we’re not actually stood on the edge of an urban forest.

The technical rehearsal itself went really well, and Gareth encouraged us to use this as an opportunity to experiment further with our choices.

The technical rehearsal itself went really well, and Gareth encouraged us to use this as an opportunity to experiment further with our Wants and be bold with our choices. It was definitely helpful for me, as I had a chance before the dress rehearsal to experiment with my characters. Grimm Tales Retold has absolutely been a fantastic process, and I cannot believe that the shows are just around the corner. I’ve had the best time, and I’m so proud of the show and everyone involved.

So for the final time #QuakeGrimm #TeamSukie

Lydia Sirovica
Wednesday 7th February, 2pm – 5pm (Tech Rehearsal Notes Session)

Hello, it’s Lydia…

We have now officially finished the tech run of the show and today Gareth led a notes session in which he picked apart any issues we had during the two days of tech. Of course, we needed to look over the fox sequences. I think the fact that we can barely see anything with the masks on shows a little too much through the way we move on stage, so during this session we worked through the transitions with the fox masks and worked on how we could appear to burst on to the stage with confidence and commitment.

We were also told that remembering to breathe in the fox masks helped us a great deal with our balance, especially in the first ‘dance’ sequence.

My worst nightmare was getting the Christmas tree for the Hansel and Gretel scene upright and plugged in… however, after a few practices, the fear of bumping into anyone was not at the forefront of my mind and moving across the stage with pace and swagger got me to where I needed to be with enough time, and according to Gareth, ‘looked great!’ We were also told that remembering to breathe in the fox masks helped us a great deal with our balance, especially in the first ‘dance’ sequence.

Production week so far, although tiring, has been quite enjoyable and we are all really looking forward to doing the dress run later on tonight! I just need to remember to BE BOLD and pursue my WANT with CLARITY and COMMITMENT.

William Melhuish
Wednesday 7th February, Dress Rehearsal

‘Goodbye to all that’

This is it! The week that we’ve all been working towards! Emotions are certainly high going into this week and it’s so rewarding to see all the effort that has gone into making this performance. As we go into the final stages of preparation there is a colossal mutual sense of pride amongst the cast regarding the huge steps we have made since the first week. We have all developed as performers and as characters in ourselves!

All we wanted to do is have fun, and that is exactly what we did!

Wednesday was a big day. We had a dress-run of the show to make sure that we were in the mind-set of what it would be like for the real performance. Nerves were high but you could feel how much energy and excitement there was in all of us. All we wanted to do is have fun, and that is exactly what we did! The power of this show was certainly emphasised by the amazing work that the design, costume and technical departments has done. Everything looked incredible. Everyone was incredible. What a pleasure it has been. Bring on the show!!

Katie Webster
Thursday 8th February, Performance 1

When I found out I was given the task of writing a blog post for opening night, I thought I would be starting by writing about things like our nerves and the excited tension backstage.

However, now I’m here, all I can think to say is thank you to the audience! From the first moment we stepped on stage, we felt your support and you were so receptive, and I personally was so overwhelmed by the response. To know the audience is on your side from Scene One is special, and I know I speak for the cast and crew when I say thank you for being such a great crowd. And yes, your standing ovation made a number of us cry with joy. Thank you.

Of course, I have to mention the first night nerves. We’ve all worked so hard on this production so we just wanted to go out there and show the audience how amazing this show is. Minus a few technical hitches (not mentioning any names… Assista…), we were really pleased and maybe even had some fun out there!

all I can think to say is thank you to the audience!

Gareth has a phrase he used many times in rehearsals that really helped me tonight: ‘How do you eat an elephant? Start with the tail.’ This might seem pretty random, but he’s getting at the concept of not thinking about the huge task ahead of performing the entire play, but starting with the moment just before you step on stage. When I’ve performed before, I’ve always been a bag of nerves, rushing through all my lines before going on stage in fear of having a mind blank. However, today I just started with the tail, and it all followed from there.

Overall, opening night was a blast and we were all so pleased. The response was overwhelming and we were all so flattered by all the lovely comments. Some people even said they’re coming back! I can’t wait to get back out there and keep having fun with this wonderful play.

Bethany Hartland
Friday 9th February, Performance 1 Notes & Performance 2

Hi it’s Beth, for the last time…

Friday afternoon began with a feedback session from our first performance the previous night! Gathering in a circle with the two DSMs, Gareth and Phil for the last time was quite a bittersweet moment. Everyone was eager to talk about the excited responses from the audience the night before, but as the meeting drew to a close it didn’t quite feel real that this was nearly the end of our Grimm Tales Retold journey with Little Earthquake. We were relieved to hear that Gareth’s notes only filled an A5 page, many of them mentioning that perhaps our nerves meant that our volume was not as loud as it could be. But, overall, the feedback just meant that we were motivated to be as bold as we could be with each of our characters and put on an even better show for the Friday night performance.

The audience’s positive response to the scene meant that it was even more fun to play around with the way we interacted with each other and the spontaneity of the ‘offers’ we gave each other.

As we went to the stage in the evening for our first warm-up without Gareth, led brilliantly instead by Katie, the energy of the cast was sky high and it was clear that the adrenaline had not declined from our first night. I think because everyone was suddenly very aware of how quick the performances were going to go, we were all desperate to make sure that we did our hard work justice by giving our all to create a really great performance. My favourite part to perform continues to be the Rumpelstiltskin scene because we have the whole cast on stage at the same time and I think the scene displays how much we have all bonded. The audience’s positive response to the scene meant that it was even more fun to play around with the way we interacted with each other and the spontaneity of the ‘offers’ we gave each other.

Leaving the theatre after the Friday night, knowing tomorrow the whole experience was coming to an end, was quite surreal. But I cannot wait to enjoy another two performances and to see the new audiences’ responses to the piece.

If you came, we hope you loved it because we sure did! #QuakeGrimm

Jordan Farrag
Saturday 10th February, Performance 3 (matinee)

Hi — It’s Jordan!

Reeling from the overwhelming support from audiences at the Thursday and Friday evening shows, we hoped to continue to emulate our previous successes on the Saturday Matinee performance. We had our penultimate warm-up lead by the inspirational Katie Webster who quickly reminded us that we only had two ‘Bananas Of The World, Unite’! left in the whole process! So we proceeded to focus extra hard on enjoying what we had left!

I was particularly nervous for this performance with friends coming to watch but was quickly encouraged by all members of the cast that ‘we got this’ and that we just need to enjoy what we are doing for it to translate to an audience. After a quick pep talk in the guys’ dressing room, we were all energised and ready to smash the show for the penultimate time!

By this point I felt that we all began to find our groove and help the audiences enjoy our dark comedy of a show!

The show, I felt, was a huge success! By this point I felt that we all began to find our groove and help the audiences enjoy our dark comedy of a show! As each scene’s performance came and went the timings of the show felt faster and faster, as we realised we only had one show remaining that evening.

One particular highlight or funny moment in this show was that I (unfortunately for Will) enjoyed maybe one too many cheese and onion rolls in the final scene and when it came to the ‘push and shove’ bit between Jake and my Office Twat, a rogue piece of cheese shot from my mouth only to find its way straight into the middle of poor Will’s forehead. This will forever be a highlight of the matinee performance for me, but perhaps not for Will.

I have enjoyed this process more than any other performance project I have ever done. I think this is because of the unwavering support of both Gareth and Phil, but also the unwavering commitment from the whole cast! I have enjoyed every second of the experience and will miss the lot of you.

Over and out.

Scott Wilson
Saturday 10th February, Performance 4 (evening)

I can’t believe it’s the last show!

This has been a process that has really opened my eyes to the simple but effective approach to acting that Little Earthquake use. Learning to just trust my instincts as an actor and only worry about what I want to achieve in that moment and to be bold in doing so has really changed my approach to acting and I’ll be eternally grateful to have discovered this fantastic technique.

I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a performance full of such life and potential for creativity as Grimm Tales Retold and the playful nature of the process has meant that every show so far has thrown up so many different ways of playing each moment. Personally that’s what live performance is all about for us as actors and, of course, for an audience.

The anticipation before each show starts is electric and hearing the audience reciprocating that excitement for the show to start really brought out the best in our performances, as we wanted to give them a show that they’d be talking about for a long time to come, and hopefully we’ve succeeded in doing so.

I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a performance full of such life and potential for creativity as Grimm Tales Retold and the playful nature of the process has meant that every show so far has thrown up so many different ways of playing each moment.

Following our last warm up session and the final rendition of ‘Bananas Of The World, Unite!’, we all took a moment to take in what we have learned and achieved throughout this process as a cast. (Now brace yourselves ‘cause Jake’s emotional side is about to come out!) I genuinely could not have asked for a better group of people to have shared this process with and I have been blown away by the commitment and sheer talent of each and every one of them. This is, of course, extended to the team working backstage as well, as the work they have put into the production of the show has provided us with the perfect platform for our performance. This show has developed so much since Day One and watching everyone grow in confidence and build such a fantastic performance has been truly remarkable.

Finally, thank you so much to everyone who came and supported us in our work. Gareth has taught us that what is important, in choosing our ‘Wants’, is that it cannot be boring for the audience. Being able to respond to the audience’s reactions really helped fuel our performances and confidence in our choices. So thank you for coming and sharing this fantastic show with us. I will be forever grateful to have been part of this process and to have had the opportunity to work with Gareth and Phil and rediscovering how much fun acting can be.

It’s been a pleasure!

#QuakeGrimm #TeamJake