A co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur companies across the UK

This is an arrangement developed between the RSC and Equity

Scenes of Utter Madness: The Common Lot Get Choreographing

Emma Trindall, who plays Starveling for The Common Lot, Norwich, documented the process of devising a dance for the amateur groups’ second rehearsal task.

A wise person* once said, “It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be enjoyed.” This has certainly been our motto during task 2.

The Google Hangout in October revealed task 2, which involves my favourite thing and everyone else’s least favourite: dance. The task was simple enough: choose one of the pieces of music provided and choreograph a dance to it. Owen (our Bottom) was happily bopping along to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” as soon as the music started so half the task was done before we’d left the call.

But then came the hard part: creating a performance of our own devising lasting a whole 2 minutes.

We all piled into the dance studio at City College, Norwich on a cold and dreary Tuesday evening with our dancing shoes at the ready. We even had a big fancy mirror and a proper sound system to get our creative choreographic juices flowing. There was a mat or two in case we fancied throwing in a lift a la Dirty Dancing. Our director Simon arrived, armed with his notebook.

Flash-forward an hour and Simon was spread-eagled across the floor, notebook at a skewed angle as he frantically scrawled “penguin, penguin, penguin” over and and over again. “Wait, was that penguin, penguin, penguin, penguin, turn? Or penguin, penguin, turn, penguin, penguin?”.

Owen’s toes were blistered and bleeding. Vic had sprained her ankle during a particularly vigorous box step and I had dissolved into a fit of giggles. Dan was desperately trying to hold it together and poor Eve arrived from work into a scene of utter madness.

“It needs to look like it’s lead by Bottom,” Simon was saying. Which was fine, except Bottom was very much on his bottom, massaging his poor feet.

“When do the bum drums come in? Let’s go from the bum drums.”

“Wait, is it cross first or left first?”

“When do we jump again?”

“Just how many penguins exactly are there?”

The executive decision was made to add in some freestyle. Owen was in his element. I’ve never seen a grown man pirouette so wonderfully. His stag leaps really were second to none. He was graceful, he was stoic and yet full of life.

Thank god we had closed the blinds.


*Erica Whyman, director of Dream 2016, when presenting us with our second rehearsal task

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