This week, I will be sharing part of the behind the scenes journey of bringing Moll Flanders to life at the Mercury Theatre. Nick Perry’s unfaithful adaption of Moll Flanders premieres on Fri 28 Sep at 7.30pm and runs until Sat 13 Oct.
I am Holly Hammond, a student from the University of Essex on a work experience placement at the Mercury Theatre. This week, I will be reporting and photographing the journey of bringing the latest show to the stage. There will also be interviews with different departments to tell us more about the show and the processes behind making the costumes and sets.
I started by joining the wardrobe department where we transported the magnificent costumes to their designated spaces backstage and in the dressing rooms.
Prior to this, I had never realised how every garment had to be labelled discretely and placed appropriately behind the stage for quick change.
The next department I visited was lighting. Here I learned how hundreds of bulbs had been fitted above the stage and coordinated with the numbers on the lighting table. Next, I helped tape up prop lanterns where it was fascinating to see how so much time is committed to making even the smaller props look perfect for the show.
My day started with watching the completion of the astonishing staging, which allowed me to take the set photographs below. It was incredible to watch how each individual aspect of the set came together to bring the stage to life.
During this session, the technical team worked with the stage lighting to produce the best desired effect for the show. Afterwards, the cast were introduced to the crew, given a tour of the finished set and had a health and safety talk. Next, the talented Moll Flanders cast began working on vocal warm-ups and rehearsals for the big day.
Today I had interviews with the Mercury Theatre’s production administrator Jenny Moore, and wardrobe manager Corinna Vincent.
Jenny Moore told me about the stage design process and how Moll Flanders differs from most productions.
Firstly, what deviates Moll Flanders from being a standard Made in Colchester production is the inclusion of an external director and acting musicians. This production also features a movement director due to the vast number of different settings across the show. A movement director is also important for this show for safety reasons because the set design contains high platforms.
White card models are used to present initial set ideas, these can help identify whether it would be physically achievable and if the budget would sustain the design. From here, the idea can be rethought or developed further.
With Corinna Vincent, I learnt more about the wardrobe department’s experience of working on the production of Moll Flanders. She was able to provide me with information on what Moll Flanders is about and the issues it deals with.
Corinna said that it was enjoyable for her team to be able to use all their skills when making the period costumes. Although the whole process was intensive, it was a creative show to work on.
I asked Corinna what her experience of Moll Flanders was like in comparison to previous productions. She said there was a good mixture of making and hiring costumes, but it was sometimes challenging because a lot of quick changing is required.
Corinna said that her favourite parts of working on the production were making Daniel Defoe’s costume with her incredible wardrobe team and working alongside a talented cast.
She summarised Moll Flanders as the life of Moll and how she fights the adversities of the harsh time period. Corinna commented that it was a good piece for females of the time because it positively reflected them. She added that Nick Perry’s adaptation capitalises this.
This morning, I worked alongside the marketing team where I discovered the design processes behind advertising shows including Moll Flanders.
This included carefully choosing what would be the best designs and photographs to use in the theatre’s leaflets and brochures. These are chosen intentionally to convey the correct message and give the audience an idea of what the show is.
This afternoon, I watched a tech session where I got my first taste of the Moll Flanders rehearsals. During this session, I was able see the adjustments in lighting and sound as the cast worked through the production. The cast actively engaged with the crew to make their own suggestions about changes and preferences to the script. This showed me how committed the cast were to the production.
The cast and crew were dedicated to working patiently through the show to deliver the best quality performance they could. Here, I saw the way the set combined with the on and off stage talent to produce an extraordinary show.
All that is left to do now is watch this fantastic production! Don’t miss out on seeing Nick Perry’s unfaithful adaptation of Moll Flanders, get your tickets here!