First off we went to a workshop on theatre design led by Tom Scutt, the set designer for Medea. He talked us through the set with his model box and explained a bit of his process. We then all donned hard hats and got to walk around the set on the Olivier stage.
I was taken aback by two things, how big the stage was and yet how small the stage was. I’ve always been amazed at the sheer size and scale of the Olivier stage. I get weirdly nerdy about the 5 story revolve. Walking on the stage made me even more aware of its vastness. Looking up the ceiling seemed no where in sight. The Medea set only uses a small proportion of the actual stage in order to keep the piece feeling intimate.
We walked through the trees in the middle of the set downstage. The forest that had seemed to stretch back so far from the audiences perspective was only actually a couple of meters. Looking out at the seats, the theatre felt much smaller again than it does when you’re in there.
The workshop finished back in the rehearsal room with a Q & A with Tom. I loved hearing about the ideas they’d tried. These included a car that got scrapped for looking too comical as it drove past the back of the stage, and beginning the play with Medea and Jason’s wedding party. We found out that in the original text Medea flies off on a dragon. At one point, when they were still going to use the car, they wanted to end the play with Medea hauling the bodies of her children into the car and driving off with a bottle of vodka and a cigarette hanging out her mouth. Tom said his inspiration for the set was the shining and the antichrist which as soon as he said it was so obvious.
Thoroughly starving, we went round to Wahaca and had lunch/dinner with katelovesstuff until we’d made ourselves 80% burrito then it was back to the National for a platform, Medea: Acts of Madness. Classicist, Edith Hall and psychiatrist, Femi Oyebode talked about whether Medea was indeed mad or not. It was a very interesting discussion. I particularly enjoyed hearing what the ancient Greek view of the play and Medea’s actions would have been.
A quick snog break ensued before we reentered the National for the final time that day to see Medea. Unfortunately I’d left my glasses at home and the tickets we’d been given with the workshop were up in the circle. (The seats in the circle, it turns out, are so much more comfortable than the low backed ones in the stall!) So basically I couldn’t really see their faces very well but I wasn’t complaining as this was the third time I’ve seen the play.
Seeing the play with new knowledge about context and the process really made me think about some parts differently as well as giggling at the thought of her riding off on a dragon or in a car.
There’s a bit in the play where Medea goes to faint and Jason’s attendant catches her. Only Helen McCrory smacked her face off his shoulder and then kind of buckled. The guy got her over to the chair and she took like a minute before saying her next lines which she did while clutching her face. If you hadn’t noticed her head bouncing off him it just looked like really good acting but you know it must had hurt so bad. She’s a trooper.
On the way into the theatre Georgie claimed she had seen Will Young in the lift wearing a headscarf. While waiting to get downstairs I turned to my left and lo and behold, with a multicoloured scarf tied around his head like he was about to do some kung fu, there stood Will Young. I flailed a bit.
Helen McCrory came out of the stage door pretty quickly clutching an ice pack to her face. Despite this she still stopped and chatted to everyone who wanted her autograph. She told us when it happened she’d just thought about how she always tell her kids “you’re fine darling, come along” in a sing song voice when it happened to her all she could think is “I’m DYINGGGGGGGG”.
It was such a great day. I think it says it all when I put my card in the ticket machine and 15 tickets came out. I have an addiction to the national. But where else can you see such great and varied theatre at such a low price?
this is the most intense photo i’ve ever seen
I’ve spent ages writing a post about what happened today. I’m close to finishing but I’m just too tired. Oh well tomorrow! Tomorrow you can hear about walking round the medea set and Helen McCrory nearly knocking herself out midplay. Oooohh suspense!
wow I didn’t know fuckin chocolate eggs were gendered
OKAY LET ME TELL YOU A STORY ABOUT THE FUCKING PINK EGGS.
I work at a concession stand in an ice rink. We sell a bunch of chocolate bars and snacks and shit including Kinder Surprise eggs.
So one day this woman comes up to the counter with her two little kids, a girl who’s probably about 6 or 7 and a little boy, maybe 3 or 4. The mom asks what they want, the little girl points at the Kinder eggs and says “One of those!”. I asked if she wanted the white or the pink egg. She said pink. The little boy pointed to the Kinder eggs and says “One of those!”. I asked if he wanted the white or the pink egg. He said pink. HOLY SHIT IT WAS LIKE I OPENED THE GATES OF HELL. The mom absolutely FLIPPED and was like “YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE PINK EGG IT’S ONLY FOR GIRLS. YOU CAN GET THE WHITE ONE OR NOTHING AT ALL”. The little boy looked at his mom and said “But I want the same as ______ (whatever the sister’s name was)”. The mom completely ignored him and turned to me and gave me a death glare. “He can have the white egg.”
I had to give a little boy a white egg when he wanted the pink so that he could be the same as his big sister and he started crying. The mom just reiterated that the pink egg was for girls and told him that boys don’t cry.
And this is why we shouldn’t gender fucking chocolate eggs.
Maxine Peake at the Peterloo Massacre commemoration, Manchester, 17th August 2014 [x]