American Lulu in rehearsal

Assistant director Finn Beames writes after the second week of rehearsals at the Jerwood Space:

Whole-hearted exploration of the many-layered and much-demanding American Lulu is well underway. Since day one, when a group dialect workshop sent us towards 1950s New Orleans and America’s segregated South, issues of race and personhood have been at the fore of rehearsals. We are working ‘against the male perspective’ as the piece directs us, and encouraging each other to see Lulu as a radical but real individual, after Wedekind’s and also Berg’s elusive idea of a transcendental type. We still consult all our source material regularly though, and indeed our musical language comes from Berg via Olga Neuwirth, and these deep levels of the complexity and ancestry of the piece are delivering a wealth of possibilities and discoveries to our rehearsal room.

One of the fascinating qualities of the production already evident is the huge diversity of our fantastic cast. Within a relatively small company we are enjoying many different approaches to singing, acting and subject matter which are clearly going to be some of the show’s great strengths.

By the end of our second week we will have looked at all the material at least once, much of it twice, and towards the end of week three we will be able to explore the coherence of our investigations in a stagger-through. The story we have to tell is by no means simple, but we are continuing to learn the importance of its complexities, whether we’re looking at life in the 50s or 70s, or now.

 American Lulu runs 13 – 24 September at the Young Vic; tickets available at

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