Rehearsals start for Pressure!

Rehearsals start for Pressure!

5 January 2018

Rehearsals for Pressure began on Wednesday 3 January 2018. 

Wednesday 3 January 2018, it's the morning after Storm Eleanor began lashing the UK. 100mph winds, heavy rain, hail and dramatic thunder and lightning. Ah, the perfect welcome then to Rehearsal Day 1 of Pressure, a play with which the drama just so happens to centre on the weather and what was arguably the most important forecast of all time. 

After a quick meet and greet, Director John Dove begins the first readthrough of the script with some background on the story. Pressure is written by David Haig and is based on real events that took place in the days before D-Day was due to take place. The allied assault on the coast of Normandy was codenamed Operation Overlord and had been two years in the making. John tells us that the man charged with the operation, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Dwight E Eisenhower (played by Malcolm Sinclair), is said to have been working up to 100 hours a week for most of that time. 

Allied planners considered tactical surprise to be a necessary element of the plan for the landings and there had been extensive work to ensure that the planned date of the assault was kept secret. Troops were assembled and sealed into their marshalling areas at the end of May, with no further communication with the outside world.

The script is set over four days that become increasingly tenser as British Royal Air Force Meteorologist James Stagg (David Haig) disagrees with American meteorologist Irving P. Krick (Philip Cairns) about exactly how bad the weather will be on the proposed date of assault. 

The company of Pressure sit in a circle for the first readthrough of the scriptFirst readthrough of the script
Everybody involved in the production attends the first day of rehearsals. We mean, EVERYBODY! It’s not just the cast, director and stage management – it’s producers, marketing, wardrobe, the designer and the voice and dialect coach. This time, we even had a small cameo from Sanchez the rehearsal room cat that meowed her way into Act 2.

The readthrough offers a fascinating first glimpse into what the production will feel like when it’s performed onstage at Cambridge Arts Theatre next month. The script evokes a real sense of urgency and ‘pressure’ about the enormity of what was at stake and the decisions that needed to be taken.

The company of Pressure look at the model of the set as Designer Colin Richmond and his associate talk about how the space will be usedModel Box presentation: Designer Colin Richmond and James Turner Donnelly (Associate Designer) present the model box, showing what the set will look like and how the space can be used. 

Dummy model in the rehearsal room This is something that we’ve certainly never seen this early on in the rehearsal room. As the production was staged a few years ago, a dummy part of the set is already here. The screen forms the largest feature of the set and will be used to show different weather forecasts as they come in. Oh look, hello Sanchez! Thanks for totally photobombing our shot.


Pressure opens at Cambridge Arts Theatre, where it plays from 1 to 10 February 2018. It then tours to Edinburgh, Newcastle, Guildford, Cheltenham, Bath and Richmond. 

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