Week one of House of Bernarda Alba rehearsals

By Chloe Clarke, January, 13 2017

Week one of Graeae’s House of Bernarda Alba – INSIDE LA CASA (yes I did)

After a lovely (boozy) restorative (gluttonous) Christmas break, it was time to get back to some real work.

And there’s no work like it. Day One at Graeae HQ consisted of a meet and greet with Graeae and Royal Exchange teams. I have to say it was a little overwhelming, in a tingly way. I’ll leave that to your interpretation. The Royal Exchange staff spent the morning training in inclusive practices and have now got shiny new sign names. They are very keen learners. Some might say swats. But I wouldn’t dream of it.

Then came the much anticipated read through (complete with tables! No holds barred here). Finally getting words off the page, into different voices and hands; out of our heads and into the room. It’s then that it started to feel really real. Like, really.

After getting to know each other and the play a bit better it was time to discover the amazing design of Liz Ascroft. Wow. Not giving anything away here though. Ner-ner-nee-ner-ner.

We went forward dissecting various scenes and doing character work over the next few days – thinking about the setting of the play and our relationships, plus the many layers of integrating AD and BSL from the start – something that is VERY IMPORTANT and not to be tacked on at the end of a project, rather conceived as part of it. Take note, people. And, by the way, the inclusive way that we work in rehearsals – everyone being so aware of each others’ access requirements – leads to such a huge mutual respect in the room. Every company should work like this.


I can’t not mention the huge privilege that is getting to do voice work with Frankie Armstrong – fellow Cardiffian (is that even a word?) – she’s teaching us the skills to protect and enhance our voices, as well as using her individual style to facilitate us in devising songs featured in the show. There’s nothing about the voice this lady doesn’t know.

All of a sudden we were at Friday afternoon, which meant the RUN THROUGH.

Yes, on day 4.

No, I’m not joking.

What a great way of working. Jenny is a genius. It was an opportunity to get our work up on its feet and show us how wonderful we all are (show us how much work we still had to do).

There is so much to do, and so much to discover….phew. All I can say is that it’s an honour to be discovering it with this brilliant bunch (don’t tell them I said that. Especially Nickie, I don’t want her to know she’s brilliant).

And….KATHRYN HUNTER IS OUR MUM. Nothing tops that. She is way beyond wonderful. Every day is like a masterclass.

Peace out y’all.


The House of Bernarda Alba is a Graeae Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Manchester co-production. Book tickets here.

  • Image of woman sitting in black on green background Productions

    The House of Bernarda Alba

    Our co-production with the Royal Exchange Theatre of Lorca's masterpiece in February 2017 marked our first time working 'in the round'. Jenny Sealey directed an all-female cast, led by Kathryn Hunter. ★★★★ 'an extraordinary production' Times★★★★ 'breathtaking theatre' Guardian★★★★ 'truly accessible to all' Reviews Hub