Our GriffInsider jumps back inside the Jump for Jordan rehearsal room and discovers the clarity that can come from complexity

Sheridan Harbridge, Camilla Ah Kin and Alice Ansara in rehearsal for Jump for Jordan. Photo: Brett Boardman

I’m back in the rehearsal room on day four and, as an outsider, conversation starts to get a little tricky: scenes swiftly shift from present to past, with the past fragmenting into layers of the warped, the literal and the imaginary. Memories intrude upon scenes and scenes soon become memories. But as the actors jump up on the floor, I give up on my colour-coded script of arrows and timelines and at once, everything becomes clear – even in these first days of stepping out the action, the sedimentary scenes are layering seamlessly atop of one another. Launching into a scene from the real, unimagined present, Sheridan Harbridge, who plays Loren (our protagonist Sophie’s sister), says this non-linear nature is one of the most exciting things about these early rehearsals.

“The play covers the past, the present and the imagined, as well as three countries and the lives of four or five women,” she says. “It’s so very sprawling, and it’s put together like a jigsaw: in pieces. The fun – and maddening – thing is trying to piece it all together.”

And just as I’m marveling at their ability to navigate this rugged terrain, things seem to get even trickier: Iain Sinclair explains that in this scene the play becomes bilingual. Well, kind of.

Alice Ansara in rehearsal for Jump for Jordan. Photo: Brett Boardman.

“One of the big challenges with plays involving other languages is that you get some members of the audience who are privileged to understand it and others that aren’t,” he says. “Donna is very carefully working out a way so that when another language is spoken, while some characters may not be in on it the audience is in on it the whole time. That’s quite a new and exciting thing.”

Intrigued, I ask how they’re approaching it. The cast laughs.

“We’re inventing it on the spot,” Iain says. “I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.”

GriffInsider, January 2014