guest post: typical / jessica mensah
The hustle and bustle of people, kilts hanging from window shops and the beautiful sounds of bagpipes means TYPICAL has arrived in Edinburgh for the fringe festival!
As soon as we arrived, we headed to the Pleasance Courtyard Beneath for our tech rehearsal. The staging is an intimate space in a thrust configuration, which works really well for the play. But without a moment to lose the entire team were back on it. Director Anastasia Osei-Kuffour and the tech team started to plot the lights and the many sounds and rhythms TYPICAL contains. The set was going up and Richard Blackwood and I continued to rehearse his lines for the play. As we were setting up for TYPICAL, Edinburgh was also preparing for the fringe. Flyers began to be posted up and handed out, the streets were marked out for an easy crowd flow and various fairy lights and colours hung from the ceiling of buildings, the festival fever was surely brewing.
the first few previews
Having an audience changed the feel of the production from being in rehearsal rooms and allowed Richard to find nuanced ways to connect with the audience and play the various characters within the play. I think it’s safe to say that a memorable moment in the play is when Richard begins to change clothes and sings to Saturday night at the same time, this moment is guaranteed a laugh. As well as the play providing a good time for its audience, it also had a profound effect on some audience members during the play’s exploration of its heavier themes. This in effect sparked conversations of reflection amongst audience members, which was encouraging to see and reminded me about the power and importance of telling stories such as TYPICAL.
a learning curve
Just one week in Edinburgh and I’ve learnt that theatre productions really are a work in progress and teach you to trust the process and not give up. As we did face challenging moments with our tech and rehearsals, but for the work to reach the standard we were aiming for we had to keep trying and believe that it all does come together in the end. And every day the production continued to develop and get better and better.
jessica mensah is completing a three-month placement as part of our artistic director leadership programme, assisting trainee artistic director anastasia osei-kuffour on typical and joining the tiata fahodzi artistic team in the autumn. jessica studied theatre and performance at the University of Surrey Guildford School of Acting. she also completed a year-long placement at Kiln Theatre, took part in the Young Vic’s introduction to directing course, the young producer’s programme at Battersea Arts Centre and in 2018 she was an assistant director on Queens of Sheba in 2018, produced by Nouveau Riche Theatre Company. jessica is also a Young Ambassador for Brent, in which she also performed a spoken word piece for the borough’s winning video called This is Brent.