Passing Places Blog Post - Jordan Blackwood

Cast of Passing Places

Blog Post 1 – 4.4.18

We’ve been in rehearsals for Stephen Greenhorn’s Passing Places for the past three weeks, and we’ve been busy exploring the unravelling relationship of two boys from Motherwell and the encounters they have with a myriad of strangers; the language of sofas; the language of cars; the language of sofa cars; and the musicality of our road movie for the stage.

Celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, we’re staging Passing Places at a timely point in the play’s history. This production fuses Andrew Panton’s overall direction with EJ Boyle’s movement direction and John Kielty’s musical soundtrack - all being developed in a collaborative, playful manner. It’s been exciting to see each element inform the other throughout the process thus far - developing a strong language that has roots in the literal but meddles with the abstract and the playful.

I’m assistant directing on this project - thanks to a Federation of Scottish Theatre bursary - supporting Andrew Panton on the overall realisation of Passing Places. An assistant director’s role is always determined by the director’s approach and the nature of the production - here I see myself as an extra eye, offering ideas and suggestions in staging. I support the team in the rehearsal room, recapping details of previously staged moments; reading in for actors; and offering a second opinion to Andrew when considering different staging elements. I’m enjoying the luxury of observing the process unfold from a prime spot, working with a brilliant team and seeing how effective a relaxed but hard-working rehearsal environment can look like. The atmosphere is great - with a plentiful supply of banter on and off-stage, and a playful underscore of live music keeping us going.

As a young director, I’ve been most interested in developing a stronger understanding of how work is made for bigger stages. It’s lovely to be working in a venue where so much is done in-house and it’s great to feel part of a big team process. There’s so much activity going on across the building, and it’s been eye-opening to see how departments work in collaboration with each other on a daily basis. Last week we took a jaunt downstairs to the workshop so that the cast could play with set-pieces in-the-making - a total bonus to see Becky Minto’s brilliant design in 3D before tech, and also a big help in considering the practicalities of staging certain scenes.

Over the next few days, we’re heading into running, drilling and tightening the show - a critical stage considering there’s so much detail for the cast to become fluent with between moving sofas, playing instruments, snappy transitions and physical moments… never mind acting!

I’ll be posting again mid-tech week - see you on stage.