Inside the rehearsal room: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Tue 24 Aug 2021

As Cat on a Hot Tin Roof enters its final week in the rehearsal room, find out more about how this bold revival of Tennessee Williams’ iconic play is shaping up in this blog by Birkbeck Trainee Director Jennifer Lane Baker.

What comes to mind when you think of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? We grappled with this question as a company on our first day of rehearsals. What baggage do we associate with Tennessee Williams? What judgements do we hold about the play? Typically, our preconceptions are that it’s hot and sweaty, full of screaming and hysterical women.

It was important for us to start by airing these assumptions, because this production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is not one you’ll have seen before.

Sam Alexander as Gooper and Teresa Banham as Big Mama. Photography by Marc Brenner.

A lot of our rehearsal process has involved really unpacking the characters in the play, led by director Anthony Almeida. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing and exploring these people and their relationships with one another, to make sure that our production is populated by characters who are rounded, complicated, messy, and real.

This work started with detailed discussions of the text, but some of the most important work we’ve been doing in the first couple of weeks of rehearsals has involved practical exercises that have helped us to explore the play and understand it in more detail. We’ve tried out many different versions of every moment in the play in order to make sure we’ve investigated all of the opportunities that it offers.

Minal Patel as Reverend Tooker. Photography by Marc Brenner.

In rehearsals at Curve, we’ve been lucky enough to have our full set up in the studio, designed by Rosanna Vize. Without giving anything away, it’s been incredibly exciting seeing how the set impacts on the way our production unfolds, and movement director Gemma Payne has been leading the company in various exercises to understand all the possibilities it has to offer. Sound designer Giles Thomas and lighting designer Josh Gadsby have also been in rehearsals with us, starting to build the full world of this Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

As we embark on our final week of rehearsals before tech, we’re now beginning to create a version of the play based on all the foundational work we’ve done so far. Our young company, ten young boys from all over Leicester, have begun rehearsing with the adults, completing our cast and bringing the play’s family to life.

Suzette Llewellyn as Doctor Baugh. Photography by Marc Brenner.

With only a few days left to go before tech rehearsals, this production is a brand new look at this stunning play, and is going to be one to remember for a long time to come.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a Curve, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and English Touring Theatre (ETT) co-production, supported by grant funding from the Royal Theatrical Support Trust. The play will open at Curve 3 – 18 September, before touring and tickets are available to purchase now. To book, click here.

Lead image: The cast of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the rehearsal room. Photography by Marc Brenner.