Eclipse by Simon Armitage is the third show that I have worked on as a director. Back at college I was the shadow director for the pantomime Dick Whittington, and more recently, William Shakespeare’s, Coriolanus. To date, I’ve found directing challenging, but it’s a challenge that I enjoy undertaking.
Directing Eclipse has been challenging because obviously with Armitage being an acclaimed poet, his play text is very poetic in nature. The script is obviously methodically structured, especially the monologues which are written in blank verse, and when read aloud, you can hear the rhythms Armitage has woven into the dialogue. I think that texts of this nature pose a lot of questions for directors when establishing the intentions behind the text, because it requires such in-depth analysis. One of my biggest priorities as a director is focusing on the delivery of the lines as it can be used to build up tension and set the scene. I have spent a lot of time in rehearsal working one on one with the actors, exploring how Armitage’s writing choices can indicate character motives.
Above all, I find the most exciting opportunity of participating in National Theatre Connections is that it offers the chance to work with a new company each year. This is my second year with Lincoln Young Company; last year, I joined the Lincoln Young Company as an actor and gained a great deal of experience which I intend to pass onto the new cast members this year. Taking part for a second year has enabled me to further develop my skill set with the opportunity to direct which will provide me with beneficial experience working towards my degree and beyond.
There is a big difference between acting and directing, and I’ll admit I’ve found directing much more demanding because we’re constantly looking at the bigger picture; considering all the characters and their relationships to one another instead of focusing on one character as an actor. Furthermore, we’re conceiving a vision for the piece. Already, I can safely say that I have learnt a lot from working with our Company Director, Martyn Horner-Glister, and the other Shadow Director, Kyle Higgins, especially as I am the least experienced. It’s very refreshing to be constantly learning from both of them, and after each rehearsal, I come away having learnt something new about the script or seeing the show in a new way.
Overall, I am very confident in our production of Eclipse, from the start of rehearsals back in September my understanding of the play and of the characters has certainly changed in ways I hadn’t expected. Subsequently, my original ideas and thoughts have expanded, providing a fresh take on the way that I plan on directing some of the scenes. I have high hopes for the cast and very much look forward to watching the final show in Lincoln and then taking it to the Curve Theatre in Leicester.
Eclipse is playing at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre from 8-10 March. Eclipse will then be performed at the Curve Theatre Leicester in May 2016, dates TBC.
Robert Lee Clarke is a second-year undergraduate currently studying towards BA Drama at the University of Lincoln. Acting in a amateur productions for ten years in such shows as You Can’t Take It With You, Cabaret, Our House, Copacabana, Little Shop of Horrors and Coriolanus, he has a keen eye for the theatre and hopes to pursue his passion to teach the performing arts at a BTEC/A-Level standard in the future.