The return of Blavatsky’s Tower
Posted on: 20 May 2016 by Tom Hurley
3 Crate's Blavatsky's Tower returns to Chapter next week. Here, cast member Tom Hurley talks about bringing the show back to life.
We’re halfway through rehearsals for Blavatsky’s Tower now and it’s really exciting to return to the play, after a short run at Chapter last year. Now we get to go on tour for three weeks. Not only will this allow us to share the production with more people, but it also gives us the opportunity to explore and develop the play in more detail.
I have revisited a production before, with Whistlestop Theatre’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which I played Bottom. It is a curious process, with a blend of new and returning cast members. The way my characterisation changed for the second go-around became a combination of deepening my understanding of the text as well as reacting to the new performers I was working with. Consequently, the performance became more expansive and felt like an entirely new experience, rather than simply a repetition.
With Blavatsky, only one actor has changed for our upcoming tour, but it has already had a major impact on the feel of the show. The way in which Peter Scott directs for 3 Crate Productions is very inclusive. As a result, the rehearsal process works towards a collective vision of the play, which is gradually realised over time. Dean Rehman’s portrayal of the Doctor has had a profound influence on the way the rest of us have approached our characters and the way the production is being shaped.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play Roland Blavatsky again. The play is incredibly well-written by Moira Buffini and the characters are richly layered, so there has been so much more to discover. Roland hasn’t left his family home for as long as he can remember. That is where he has lived and grown up into adulthood. This sheltered life has led to a very peculiar, often explosive, personality. He has grand ambitions, but deep-set insecurities, which massively influence the relationships with his family and the Doctor who enters their lives at the beginning of the play.
The Blavatsky family are socially isolated, arguably by choice, but I have been thinking a lot this time around about how quickly judgement is passed on such alternative lifestyles. There is such a pressure to enforce the idea of a social ‘normal’ and a disregard of anything else as being dysfunctional. The Blavatskys are functional, in the sense that they have a stable living environment, which they have survived with a relative level of contentment for decades. However, their world is fragile, so the introduction of an outsider and his judgement on them is disruptive and ultimately leads them to breaking point.
The play is very much a comedy, but what makes it work (and so enjoyably ridiculous at times) is the characters’ vehement belief in their own world, their ideals and their relationships. One year on, I am more excited about the show than ever before. Our approach has deepened, the ideas are more confident and fully realised. I hope you will join us at Chapter at the end of May to have a glimpse of this weird and wonderful world we’ve been creating on stage!
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