After a week of table readings and analyzing the script it was time to get it on its feet.
I’m always amazed at the actor’s process. First off, it’s like snowflakes – no two actors have the same process. But I’ve witnessed this many times. A reading is one thing, but once an actor can actually get on his or her feet and use their body their performance just blossoms. Having the physicality (and soon the wardrobe) really helps the actor get into character. In our case, Jason Dechert and Jules Willcox have taken the words and started making them their own.
And when there are places where the dialogue doesn’t feel right, our actors have the playwright right there to say, “Who wrote this shit?” And “You’ll get new lines tomorrow.”
Having the playwright (i.e. ME) there for rehearsals has been advantageous. Most of the time I just sit and watch and let the director work with the cast. But every so often they hit a rough patch in the script and it’s good that I’m there to explain my intent. And I probably save them hours of discussion by saying, “The problem is it sucks. I’ll give you something else.”
What makes the rewriting easier is that now I can tailor it to our specific actors. Whenever I write an original piece I try to picture someone in the role, even if it’s an actor I know I’ll never get. I don’t think Meryl Streep will want to play the neighbor mom in a pilot. But at least if you’re basing the character on a specific movie star it’s that much easier for the casting director to find a similar type.
In the case of my play, however, I didn’t model the characters after anyone famous. Try telling a casting director the star is sort of like my cousin Milty.
My play has only two actors and very sparse sets. Our director, Andrew Barnicle, was able to do the initial blocking in only two days, which he acknowledged was incredibly quick. I asked how long it usually takes him to block a play. Three days.
We’re still at the stage where we have to leave a lot to the imagination. Lighting design and cues play a large part in my play and we won’t see that aspect of the production until we’re on the main stage – a couple of weeks from now. It’s like filming a movie in front of green screen. You have to imagine what it’s ultimately going to look like.
This is another reason why I’m glad I’m not directing this play. My inexperience would be so glaring at every turn. Andrew said to me one day that he was quite pleased. The actors seemed ahead of schedule – which is great, except I have no idea what the schedule is. At what point should they have the play memorized? At what point should they be in wardrobe? How do you know when you’re over-rehearsing? When can you let them go to the bathroom?
So the rehearsing continues. Stay tuned for more installments. And again, hope you get to see the final result.