Red electrical tape marks out our playing space on the timber floor. One side of this line denotes the stage; outside of this line is known as the wings. Here, bits of costume and props line up, ready to be brought on stage.
Among these props – suitcases, wine bottles, letters – lies a digital camera, very much out of place in this world of 1940s Galway.
We’re in the Lab on Foley Street in Dublin. It’s week three of rehearsals for Light a Penny Candle. Maeve Binchy’s heartfelt story, adapted wisely for stage by Shay Linehan, is taking shape. I’ve brought my camera with me this week; I leave it off to the side as we work through the text.
When I’m not needed in a scene, or on one of our breaks, I take my camera from the wings and make a few photographs. The light streaming in, along with the friendly nature of the room, affords me this opportunity.
It’s a nice way of working. A nice way of seeing. In my other line of work, as a photographer, I usually only get an hour in a rehearsal room. An hour to try to get a sense of what that group might have been working on for weeks or months; an hour to try to represent this process. Fortunately, this week, my focus is as an actor, allowing me to see things slowly with the camera.
The camera will take second place over the following, final week of rehearsals. It might not even make it into the room, as all eyes will be on pulling the final bits of the show together. The resultant photos will stand as a record of sorts to that playful stage of rehearsals, where we began to solidify our ambitions for the piece and found more depth in our characters.
No doubt the show will tighten up and appear effortless on the night, but the photographs serve as a memory to those fluid moments in the rehearsal room. An insight into something that will soon be out of sight.
Light a Penny Candle, adapted by Shay Linehan from the novel by Maeve Binchy, has its world premiere at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin on Tuesday, April 23rd, where it runs until Saturday, May 4th. It moves to in the National Opera House, in Wexford, on May 8th and 9th and to the Watergate Theatre, in Kilkenny, on May 10th and 11th