Saturday, March 31, 2007

Friday Night Laughs

I was delighted with last night's audience. They were smaller, (105), which is common for standard straight shows on the second Friday. But they were responsive from the very beginning.

I myself did fine, despite not being able to go through a whole pick up rehearsal. To the best of my knowledge, there were no major screw ups of any kind during the show. If there were, no one told me about them.

I even got a few hollars when I bowed during curtain call, which is nice. If they came from a group of my friends, they did not stick around long enough to indentify themselves after the show, as most of my friends usually do. So maybe it was just a group I made an impression on. Quite a nice feeling.

I predict a larger crowd for tonight, as Saturdays are usually larger than Sundays. But the conventional wisdom has been bucked more than once during the run of this show, so who knows? Fairly soon I will, and so shall you, loyal blog readers.

Friday, March 30, 2007

"Half" Assed

Remember a few weeks ago I posted an entry that started with a reminder that you can still respect something, even when it makes you angry?

A good notion to bear in mind this time.

Last night was supposed to have been a pick-up rehearsal for the whole show. What it ended up being was, quite honestly, a waste of most people's time.

For those who do not know theatrem a pick-up rehearsal happens between weekends of a show. Also known as a brush-up, it's purpose is exactly as it reaquaint the cast with the show...and make sure any rusty gears get a little oil before you perform the second weekend.

At least that is the technical purpose of a pick-up.

In alot of theatres, a pick-up rehearsal tends to be somewhat less serious than rehearsals leading up to opening night. It is a looser feel, as a weekend of performing has already been completed, and the cast is now confident they have what it takes to do a second weekend. This being the case, sometimes things go slightly goofy at a pick up. How much they get goofy depends on the cast, director, and theatre it's taking place in.

I do not mind a bit of that. If a castmate wants to walk on with a funny looking hat, or give the intermittant odd face on stage, so be it. It's in good fun.

But when it becomes so goofy, off the wall, beyond the script, and just plain pointless as it did last night, a line is crossed.

I imagine it was crossed for our director as well. After we finished act one, (what was left of it), he called of the rehearsal. He stated that the entire thing was "denegrating" into something he didn't want it to be. Given that we had already proven our creative juices were still in tact, he found no reason to continue.

This decision inspired much celebration in some. It inspired less than that in me.

I hadhoped to go over act 2 specifically before I had to play for an audience the second weekend. I have made no major blunders on stage, and in all probability will not make any this weekend. But most of my "heavier" my challenging stuff is in act 2, and I would be lying if I denied feeling a bit cheated by the early end to rehearsal.

Yes, I was lighter in mood when I was rehearsing act one, but that was in large part due to the fact that everything around me was taken on a lunatic tone. Playing it all straight would have been hard, even for me. But neither that, nor the fact that I am able to do well this evening without a pick up rehearsal removes my right to have had one.

So I am a bit bothered going into tonight as opposed to uplifted and roaring to go. I am sure that feeling will lift, but it's difficult sometimes to not feel insigificant to the show when such things happen.

Not that i was the only one who was trying to take it somewhat more seriously. A few people did not even know anything had happened, because they were going about their normal routine of preparing whenmost of it was going down. yet I am sure I am the only one who was this bothered by it all. I don't apologize for that, I just acknowledge this sort of thing is bothersome to me, even if not to anyone else.

Though it may have been, who knows?

So, hereis hoping tonight goes as well as it should have, regardless of last night.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Saturday and Sunday

This will be a longer entry, because I will be covering the last two shows.

First, Saturday night.

We knew we were getting a big crowd before the house even opened. Reservations were high, plus walk-ins always happen. Final total was over 200 which was awesome.

I could certainly feel the electricity from that crowd, (which included many of my friends.) I have felt greater power and anticipation before a show, but not for a while, and I knew the crowd was going to be "off the hook", and I predicted as much in the green room before the show.

Turns out I was right. The were responsive, energetic, and at times uproarious, from beginning to end. The laughs came on a regular basis, as did the applause at the end of scenes.(This is not something you always get when you do a play of many scenes.)

I do not enter for the first time until about 20 minutes into the play, so I have a little extra time to prepare myself. During that time, I tried to judge not only the audience, but my fellow actors. They too seemed to be more on target than ever before. I could hear them better, the timing was spot on, and the energy of the scenes, (from what i could gather by listening to them) was way up, without being too manic.

This continued when I came out on stage. I felt instantly in the zone, as they say. Not simply because I was doing well, but because I could feel that everyone else was right where they wanted to be, or near it, when we were interacting on stage. There was quite a bit of natural cadence and realism to the scenes. Everyone was doing an excellent job, which in turn helped everyone else they were with do even better.

Act 1 ended in a nice comedic upswing. Everyone I talked to at intermission agreed that the crowd was a marked improvement over opening night. Then came act 2.

Act 2 has worn on me more than act one. Not only are my responsibilities increased, but each of the things I do is separated by longer periods of inactivity than anything I do in act 1. It's a challenge to fight off some antsiness on my part.

Then when it does come time for me to do certain things, my monologue specifically, I do still get a small bit nervous. Not in the traditional sense, but I tense up a slight bit right before I go out for that part.

Saturday night, however, I all of the sudden felt more at ease right before I went out, than I usually do at that point. I was calmer. When I went out, I gave my monologue better than I had previously up until that point. I had been off book for weeks of course, and had always done well. Yet Saturday it felt more natural than before. As though I owned it...really owed the speech, for the first time. So much so , that after I left the stage, I leapt into the air to celebrate. Very uncharacteristic for me.

Once I get that done I usually feel more at ease again, and the final important scene I have, (a "romantic" scene) is several scenes later. I have time to come down. Which I did on Saturday, only with extra excitement and refinement for the scene. (Which, as usual, the audience very much enjoyed.)

The play concluded, and both audience and cast were very pleased, by all indications. It was the best we have ever run the show, rehearsal or performance.

As for today, it is no secret I hate matinees. Especially when they come right on the heels of excellent Saturday nights.

So today's audience was a pleasant surprise.

There were about 130 people. They were warm and responsive from the very beginning. Sunday morning crowds are usually half asleep, or very "polite", as theatre people say. not this one. In fact, someone was laughing as soon as I entered today...and I had not ever done anything yet. (Is this a good or bad thing??)

Though not as boisterous as Saturday's crowd, these folks were right with us the entire time, and laughed much more than the opening night audience. In fact, the even laughed at a few things that Saturday's great crowd did not laugh at.

That goes especially for me. Though I loved Saturday's crowd, I think on the whole today's audience laughed more per capita at my on stage adventures than any of the crowds thus far. They did not do a lot of hooting and hollering at the curtain call, but it was clear to me I was making an impression throughout the whole show, as opposed a few select moments. I am not always certain of that fact, but today I was. I could feel that the character resonated with this crowd for whatever reason.

That, along with the previous night's experience made for a far less stressful lead in to my monologue. Not that I was ever shaking, but today I was ready much quicker than previously.

All and all I have no problem at all declaring this one of, if not that finest matinee audience I have performed for at the Opera House.

In sum, a good opening weekend.

There is to be a pick-up rehearsal on Thursday. Though this has not often been done in shows I have been in at the OOH, I am glad we are having one. We are improving with each run of the show, and the second weekend really should be launched after a run through...not launched BY a run through.

So now, some days off.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Opening Night

I can say that I was happy with my individual performance. As our director often says, a performance is just a repeat of your best rehearsal, with more people watching. So in that regard I did well. I think everyone else did well too.

The audience however, despite being large (170) was not overtly responsive until the last 10 minutes.

No doubt, there were times when they laughed quite a bit. But overall they were a bit cold, in my humble opinion. Not hostile by any means. Just....quiet. Even duringtimes I thought for sure they would not be.

I suppose that is rather common. Rare is the play that has one of it's best audiences on opening night. Don't ask me why.

I do not come on until about 20 minutes after curtain, so there was not as much open nervousness on my part before the show. Some nervousness did show up rightbefore my first entrance, as well as before my monologue. But overall I felt calm, and totally ready to perform.

I noted no mistakes by anyone.

So an adequate, if not exhilirating opening. (Notable mostlyfor me having forgot to take my traditional walk to the Mother Mary statue..the firstopening night I ever forgot to do so.) But the opening is under our belts. We have performed the show. Ergo we should be more comfortable, and I feel tonight is when things will really pick up.

Saturday night shows constitute about 2/3 of the "best night of the run" performances I haveever been in. Let's see if tonight continues that pattern.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Without going into private details, a friend of mine from college, the one who gave me my very first lead role in anything, is going through an exceptionally difficult time right now. Given that, I wanted to announce to the blogosphere that I am dedicating my entire run of "Dearly Beloved" to her.

Stay tuned tonight for updates on how the big opening went.

Coming In For a Landing

This entry is going to be a catch-all for the main point of the last two nights of rehearsal. Being at the end of the rehearsal process though, I will not belabor too many technical points this time.

To begin with, I have been eating food the last two nights on stage, for the first time. It seems to be going well. I have never really had to consume food during a scene before, and was somewhat nervous about it. Having done it the last two nights, I feel better about it. no real worries there.

Last night was a bit bumpy, but I did not really mind it. I want quality of course, but it felt like one of those times when you knew things were shaky in a major way for the last time. I just had a feeling that we were honing in on that balance a show needs headed into it's opening night. (Which is often proceeded by a short time of being slightly off.)

Tonight was that night of balance. Perhaps the night of the "click", as talked about here a few weeks ago.

I have no problem saying tonight's rehearsal was, overall, our best. True, I did not see 100% of everything that went on. But what I saw was more polished and streamlined than it has been all week. The parts I was actually involved in felt much more natural and energetic than at any point in the rehearsal process. That allowed me to tap into inspirations I had only caught glimpses of before, in the areas of nuanced line delivery, motivated blocking, detailed background business, and all of the other things that contribute to a true well rounded performance.

In short, this is as natural as it has felt for me the entire time thus far.

Maybe part of it was due to the fact that we had a mini-audience tonight, in the form of a local photographer and his wife, who do alot of work for the theatre. (Providing laughs from the house.) Some might have been due to the fact that the backstage/dressing room monitors were picking up the onstage dialogue better than they had been. (In my view, anyway.) But I think most of the positive aspects of tonight were due to those intangibles so often associated with the theatre. The moments that just line up the way they need to. They magical feeling when nearly everyone simultaneously hits their optimum stride. That energy and feeling in the air that is greater than the sum of its parts, and only seems to be there before a really good show. Alot of that was there tonight.

In many ways this show is unlike the other stuff I have done at the Opera House. But in other ways, it is eliciting feelings within me that remind me a great deal of my earlier theatre days. At least at that theatre. I mentioned discovering my old letter, and being cast with someone I had not seen since my first production at the OOH. I even got an email this very day from someone else that was in that first show, and from whom I only here once a twice a year.

The director even provided us with some drinks after rehearsal tonight, to celebrate. Something which, though not unheard of, particularly reminded me of my early days at the OOH.

Plus, the warm weather finally arrived this evening.

The cast is not a huge one. There are no big production numbers. The set is simple. The script is neither epic in length nor exceptionally genius in its content. And as described on this blog previously, I have found myself at various times more drained before rehearsals than is normal for me. Yet all the bumps notwithstanding I feel compelled to mention my prediction that there will be something extra about this show. I don't know why I feel this way, given that the details leading up to and included within the experience would indicate a fun but rather typical theatrical experience for me. Yet, whether its for me personally or the entire cast, one night or the entire run, there is something of a positive nature waiting to surprise me. Perhaps the rest of the cast and crew as well.

Either way, tomorrow marks the beginning of it all. T-minus 19 hours and counting...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rock of Ages

First rehearsal with all technical elements AND all personel. (Though a few tech people were late in showing up.)

I now know the entire tune to the old Gospel song "Rock of Ages". The reason being, it is part of the sound plot for thisshow, and was running on a loop for about 15 minutes after I arrived at the theatre. Something was being tested, I suppose. End result...a whole lot of "Rock of Ages".

As for the rehearsal, it continues to go well. The honing in on nuance continues for me. Each night I seem to have a new idea to add to my performance. Most of them involve facial expression when I am not speaking. Some of my favorite type of nuance work takes place when I am in the background of something. Many times in this blog I have spoken to the importance of that. This show requires ample time for me to put that sort of skill to use.

Some of the nuance is with my line delivery though. Not as much there, but as the show's energy picksup, I find that certain lines have to be delivered myme in certain ways in order to keep up. This is a good thing, however. It means, at least for the scenes I am in, a bit of electricity is starting to form.

Wealso worked on the curtain call last night.

I think timing on various fronts also improved last night for the cast. I cannot vouvh for every single moment, as I of course do not see every moment. But I sneak a peek from backstage, or the house sometimes. What I do see is improving.

Speaking of improving, I am hoping to be at the theatre a few monutes earlier tonight, traffic willing. One of my castmates has asked the we go over a scene that we share. He seems tot hink he is not gettingsomething right. I asked him if he was sure it wasn't me screwing up, and he continued to profess it was mostly him. (Though I myself have not noticed anything.) So today we will run that a few times.

Everyone in full constumes tonight. That should give some of the final polish.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Balanced Restored...Almost

It is always such an odd thing to perform a scene with one of the actors missing. You look in the direction of where you know they would be if they were present, while responding to a disembodied voice, (usually of the stage manager) reading the lines in the most utilitarian way.

That was the case last night, (Monday) given that one of the actresses was not present.

That notwithstanding, I considered it one of our strongest rehearsals thus far. I would say my strongest, personally.

Why do I say that? Speaking for me, I have been very tired and not at the top of my game physically the last few days. I am not sure why. Whatever the reasons, I was drained when I went into rehearsal last night. I was early, as usual, so because of my fatigue, I decided to just sit up in the dressing room for a while and try to focus. On the show, my character, and getting some strength back.

Slowly but surely I did begin to feel better, and regain some of my energy. (Thanks in part I am sure, to some hot tea I had with me.) By the time we got started I felt almost at peak performance. As I went through each of my scenes, I was picking up difference line readings I could give, or facial expression I could make use of. I felt more in the zone than I have the last couple of rehearsals. All and all, I would say the show just felt more real last night.

I felt somewhat drained again near the end of rehearsal, but nothing like what I had been when I arrived at the theatre. Though I was not doing cartwheels or anything, the energy I found at the beginning of the play was enough to carry me through to the end, bringing with it some new insights into my character and performance.

There was some confusion in one of the scenes I was in. I have thought about it several times, and I am still not certain if it was I, or my scene partner that jumped a line. You would think it would be obvious to me if I was to blame, and I am a little ashamed to admit that I am not sure. However, the reason I am so unsure is that the scene proceeded so smoothly despite the bump that there was no glaring damage done to our flow. Ergo, the point of divergence was not even obvious to those of us on stage. I imagine it would have been impossible for it to have been detected by an audience. I do not want to make a habit out of such a thing of course, but the smoothness that followed the error, (whatever it was) is a testament to the strength of the scene, as well as the other person I work with in said scene.

Our stage manager was back last night, and we had a full tech crew to work with for the first time. That also helped make the show feel more on target, despite being shorthanded on stage. One of the scene changes ran a tad long, but then again the crew as it is now had never run it before. They have several days to trim the fat off of that, and I know they will. Our stage manager is quite capable.

The sound was better today. Les distracting. If it is because I am more used to it, or because the volume was adjusted, I cannot say. I do know that the director requested one of the sound effects be softened somewhat. Given that this effect was the one that had bothered me most, I was happy to hear the request.

All and all, a good rehearsal despite my health and energy issues. If each of the remaining three can nightly improve by the same degree as last night did over Sunday afternoon, we are in good shape.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Enter, Tech Week

I was far too tired last night to blog about Sunday's rehearsal. So here is the run down.

We rehearsed with all technical elements present for the first time. Lights we have had for a few days. Sound was a first, and I confess, I found it somewhat distracting.

The sounds are simulating action going on in an adjacent room, and are barely detectable from the house. This means, however, due to the way the set is constructed, that the sound effects have to be quite loud from one of the speakers backstage. I had to strain to here my cue line in a few places. Past a certain point in the show, backstage will not at all be a place to relax, and get ready for my next entrance. That is somewhat unfortunate, as I was not sure we needed quite so much volume for quite so much time. But I am neither the director, nor the sound designer. I am just speaking from the perspective of an actor backstage.

We are also going to have to talk a bit louder onstage, because from there it can be somewhat loud at times as well. I confess this has thrown me off a bit, coming so sudden. I made no major mistakes, but keep in mind we are all trying to makeup, during tech week, the time and sharpening we missed so much of last week, with all of those last minute nights off. In some ways the rehearsal process is much younger in our minds than it is on a calendar. I will get used to it, but I am personally not sure we need quite that much sound, that often. But I respect the fact that i am neither a sound designer, nor the director.

Sadly, the effects tend to drown out the speaking of the actors when it all comes through the "cue speakers." (Those speakers in the green and dressing rooms that let us know where in the play we are, when we are not onstage.) So even in those places it will require a little extra effort to discern where we are. But, so it goes, I guess.

In addition to added technical elements, we were joined by two more technical staff members. One is a friend of mine I have worked with several times on stage. The other is someone that looks familiar, and who I think was on the stage crew for one other show I have done, but I am not sure. Either way, we have two more people helping out.

Our stage manager, and one other tech person have been out of town the last few days. I am not certain when they return...tonight or tomorrow. Either way, once they are back, and everything is set, we will be ready to starting flying.

The missed nights last week (which I discussed in previous entries) really have in my mind made the process seem shorter. I like that week before tech week...where things are getting serious, but there is still some breathing room. We had a little less time for that in this show, and we are ever so slightly behind where I like to be headed into tech week. We have four rehearsal left(!) to correct it, and I have no reason to suspect that we cannot accomplish that. Just one of those less than ideal things that have to be worked around. The theatre life is chock full of them, as any actor reading this can attest to.

As for my actual performance, I continue to make small improvements. Line readings, pauses, gesticulations. Knowing that the show is somewhat shaky in a few places does not keep me from honing in on my own performance, and I have to be honest when I say I am pleased with my work thus far. There is much nuance I can, and will add in the final handful of rehearsals, but all and all I am, as an individual actor, right where I like to be at this stage in the game.

Part of that may be helped by the costume. We did not have to wear them yesterday. In fact I do not think we are required to again until Thursday. But I am going to keep doing so. I have no major costume change, but it would almost feel awkward to not have the costume on, being at the start of tech week.

I am glad we are out of weekend rehearsals now. I do not like rehearsing in the afternoon. It is only slightly less annoying than performing a matinee. (Those who read this blog, or know me, recognize I do not enjoy matinees, as a rule.) The rest of this week will be evening rehearsals...performing when it is mostly dark outside. The way modern theatre was intended.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Some Improvement

Last night, (I was too tired to post about it then) marked some improvement over the previous rehearsal. If you read my previous entry on said rehearsal, you would conclude that perhaps it would have to have been better.

Things were not perfect, however.

Our stage manager and half of our tech crew will not be with us for a few days. So we had to go without them. This means that no one was available to be on book, and hence calling for lines was not possible. This however doesn't bother one should have to be calling for lines very much at this point anyway.

That being said, it is hard to tell how much was skipped or forgotten, since there were no stoppages for line callings. However, based on what I heard some of my cast mates said, there seems to have been several places where lines were skipped, or parts of conversations performed out of order.

But in the end, we need that sort of thing, if you ask me. By weening everyone off of calling for lines, it forces everyone that needs it to really hone in and get the script down pat. In fact, the director mentioned this at the end of the evening...he officially instructed the cast to no longer call for lines for the remainder of rehearsals.

As for the rehearsal itself, as I said, better than the last time. It was ok in it's own right, I suppose.

The local paper was there taking pictures, so we were all in costume. (Including a brand new custom made name tag for my character.) I was glad to be in costume again. Though we are not required to be, I may just put my costume on for the remainder of the rehearsals. Itgets me into character. It also helps me feel that the play is really getting underway, despite the seemingly endless cancelled rehearsals we have been enduring lately. (I will have to miss yet another rehearsal tonight, because of ice on the roads.)

More on that note, we have only had two nights of rehearsal in the last week or so. While a few of my cast mates are celebrating this fact, I myself am confused as to what there is to be happy about in regards to that. I volunteered for this project of my own free will. No one forced me into it. It has my name attached to it, so I desire to do a good job. The more I, and everyone else gets a chance to rehearse, the better everything will be. I must confess, therefore, I am confused by the notion of squealing with delight over having a night off this late in the game, (whether planned or unplanned.)

In short, I wish we had had more rehearsals in the last 7 days.

I will not call myself worried. But I think that we will have extra work to do heading into tech week next week, given how much rehearsal time we missed this last week. Lines, of course, but also getting used to lights, sounds, costumes, and picking up our energy. We seemed a tad flat last night, in my view.

One week form this day we will open. Whatever the week brings, let's hope it does not bring any more days off.

It will be a semi-wild week at the theatre. I sense it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Respect does not equate with always being happy with someone of something. A person can not feel like being around their spouse sometimes and still have a good marriage. People can adore their mothers and still be fed up with them at times. Being happy and respect do not always correlate.

That being said, I found last night's rehearsal to be bad. Even further to the point, I found the last 20 minutes to be terrible. This wouldn't be an honest blog for the reading public if I did not mention the negatives sometimes as well, so here we are.

There were line drops and missed entrances. (Some of which have not been successfully completed once.) There was backstage drama and tension. We lacked cohesion, focus, and discipline. In my personal assesement, this spinning of wheels was seen by some as being far more funny than it really should be at this stage in the game.

We open in a little over a week, and quite frankly, last night was Busch League. Some blamed the light cues (which we used for the first time last night.) Some blamed it on the fact we had been away from rehearsal for three days. I do not think either fact is an acceptable explantion.

Nor was I particularly happy with the assertion, made by some, that everyone was totally off last night. That makes everyone sound equally guilty. To be frank, all mistakes are not created equal. It's just not fair to say everyone was off. Everyone was not off. Some people were off, but admitted their mistakes. Admirable, and very much appreciated by me. Some people were even further off, and either took no responsibility, or made umbrella statements that we were all off. The truth is, the final culprit was a lack of unity on the part of the performances.

In the interest of self defense, I wanted to point out to my loyal blog readers that I myself did not feel I was off last night. I can state with total honesty that I did not drop any lines, or miss any entrances. On a night like last night, that is saying quite a bit.

I take pride in my work. I am not a better person than anyone else in the cast. But I think I clearly had a better night than some.

Let me state I do not think the cause is lost. But I do feel that we have taken a significant step backwards in our preperations. We can fix it, but now is the time for getting down to business.

Speaking of doing so, we ran the whole show last night for the first time. It was not supposed to be that way, as each night this week was supposed to be dedicated to one act at at a time. But due to a scheduling error, we cancelled tonight's planned rehearsal. To make up for missing tonight after having missed three days before hand, we ran the whole show last night. The remainder of the week will also consist of running the whole show. Given what was going on last night, I am quite happy to take on the extra time and work in order to put the ship straight again.

We did indeed work with light cues for the first time. We also had the tech crew on hand for the first time last night. In one day they lost 2 out of 4 people on the crew. I never saw them. So there is a rush on to get replacements.

At the end of the evening the director encouraged us all to spend our time off tonight to look over our scripts. In general this director is a patient man, but I wonder how much longer he can remain calm. I applaude his efforts.

To that end, he mentioned at the end of rehearsal that we are getting to the point where more things (and people) will get on our nerves. He included himself in this statement. Whether or not this was spawned by a specific incident or not, I cannot say. I only know that he asked us to always bring personal complaints to him, so as to avoid backstage drama. Not a bad idea, of course, but he is right about the nerves at this point. They are noticably more raw in various corners. Mine are ok, but I would not advise anyone to test them, either.

The show will be allright. But holey moley what a night...I hope all the extra garbage surrounding the show starts to clear out soon. But if not, I can and will take pride in my own preparedness.

Monday, March 12, 2007

By Request

Susan asked, so I will simply say I did in fact end up going to the cast gathering on Saturday night.

It was fun. Plenty of food, and such. Some people I had not seen in a while were there. There was much talk of theatre oriented subject matter as you might expect.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Choppy Waters

By no means was tonight's rehearsal of act 2 a disaster. Things are there and in place so that one day it will be just fine. However, I would also be dishonest if I were to say that tonight did not have some rough spots. Frankly, more rough spots than I think it needed to have.

This is not something that can be blamed on any one person. Sometimes, I suppose, an evening will consist of accumulating small factors that degrade the overall smoothness of the rehearsal. Such was the case this evening...due to both unforeseen factors as well as, I am sad to say, choices and situations that could have been avoided.

But the evening is over now, and no permanent damage was done to the show.

One positive thing was the presence of more props, and such. I myself do not really make use of many, but the set is always enriched by the addition of the incidentals.

No costumes tonight though. No big deal, for as I mentioned last night, I have no real costume changes to practice. Not sure about the others, actually. I know of only two people for certain that have the change costumes, but there are probably more than that.

Tomorrow night, (I should actually say tonight, since it is so late), is a small cast gathering at the home of one of the cast members. I will probably go, though I do confess that for my last few plays, I have been increasingly disinclined to participate in alot of extras like that. This is not a reflection on people involved. It is simply something I have found myself less excited about doing in my recent theatre history. Whether this is a positive, negative, or neutral development I cannot yet determine. I cannot deny that it has happened.

That being said, I feel I can consider my presence "probable" for the get together, at this moment.

We have no rehearsal until Tuesday. While we are in fact doing good, I think we are still rusty enough to have not quite deserved that many days off this late in the proceedings. It could not helped, from what I understand. Several people are out of town. Still, I think based on tonight, three evenings without running things give my cause for some very minor concern.

I will make sure to keep running my lines in my head, (and the tape in the tape player on which I recorded my lines) all throughout the weekend, to make sure I am still off book come Tuesday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Progress and Memories

This is going to be a longer than average entry, because I want to address many thing. So bear with me loyal blog readers, as I give an overview of tonight's eventful rehearsal, and then afterwards tell you an interesting story.

First all, one of my cast mates told me that they read this blog frequently. So my thanks and greetings to them.

As for the night itself, many things about tonight's rehearsal heralded the start of the unofficial "countdown" in my mind. Things that change the whole atmosphere of a rehearsal for me. Signs that we are really getting down to business. First and foremost among such things was the arrival of full costumes.

I had my UPS hat, and shirt on today. Along with the biggest pair of shorts possibly ever. The costume person had to pin them up so I could perform in them tonight. I realize that I am only average height for a guy, but a person would have to be about 6'4 in order for these shorts to have even been above the knees. But the color is a good match to UPS brown. So once hemmed, they will do just fine. (Though I had to scurry around for a belt, as they were a bit too loose.)

So, brown shorts, shirt, and cap are in place. The stage manager remarked that I looked like "a giant poo" or something along those lines. I replied that she smelled like one.

My base costume was set. I also have to at some point put on a robe. This too was too long, and was also pinned up for the rehearsal. But it, like the UPS outfit, is going to work fine once hemmed. That ladies and gentleman is the extent of my costume plot. Outstanding in its simplicity.

Costumes usually help bring the character I am playing to the surface more. No exception tonight. It was a relief to finally be in costume for me.

Speaking of costumes, I was up in the dressing room for the first time today. More on what happened up there later, but for right now, suffice to say that going up to the dressing room each night is another major sign of things getting under way. With costumes to wear and dressing room in which to change into them, one is halfway home.

The final thing tonight that really added to an emerging completeness was the sound technician showing up for his initial setup.

I have worked with this technician before, and he is tops. not that a huge amount of sound effects will be required for this show, but it is nice to know the stage will be miked in expert fashion.

What that also means is that the sound from the stage will be piped into remote speakers in the nearby green room for the remainder of the production. I have always loved that, because it means I no longer have to stay right back stage in order to here where in the show we are. I can do as I often enjoy doing...walking around in adjoining rooms, keeping my ears peeled for my pre-cue lines. Some people stay just back stage the entire time. Not me. I like the chance to be in the green room, or up in the dressing room. (Which also has a speaker in it.) I have some long periods of inactivity in this show, so that is helpful.

So those are two thing that hammer home how close we are getting to making this all count. We of course are not opening night ready just yet, but the first semblances of electricity are were starting to make themselves known tonight, and I love that.

As for as the actual rehearsal, it went fairly well. There were some stumbles here and there, but nothing that needs to be discussed at any length. That kind of stuff happens. Perhaps all of the extra hype of having our costumes added to that. I do not know. But there is nothing to be concerned over. Hopefully now that the novelty of having costumes is behind us, act two will go swimmingly, as they say, tomorrow night.

As I do not do as much in act 1, I did not get many notes tonight. They only main thing was a major change was made to some of my blocking in the final 5 minutes of the act. Nothing big there.


Now comes the more symbolic and sentimental part of the post. For those not into such, feel free to bail now. For those that are just too curious, read on.

I have been performing at the Old Opera House on a consistent basis for over three years now. It was the first non-college theatre experience I had ever had. That first show was the Crucible, back in October of 2003.

My life was quite different then, and you must take that into account before reading further. Though this is not the place for autobiographical catharsis and the like, I will say in short I was overall less happy about many things in my life than I am today. All sorts of chaos was going on around me when I joined the cast of The Crucible. (I had not even auditioned for the part...through connections I was told that a replacement was needed, and I volunteered.)

From the beginning, the show, the people, and the whole experience was of great significance to me, given my state of affairs at the time. Who can say why certain people are moved by certain theatrical experiences when others are not? I only know that being in that show, at that time, with those people had a profound impact on me. So much so in fact that on the opening night of that show I sat up in the dressing room pondering. I noted a stack of scrap papers attached to an old clipboard in a box of forgotten props behind me. I took out a pen, and wrote a short letter, to any random person in the future who may find said letter. It was about how I felt to be in the show, and what it meant to me. I then signed it, dated it, and stuck it in the middle of the stack of papers.

Though I did not want them to, I was certain someone in that cast would find it before the show closed. If they did, they never said anything. Nor did anyone during the next show I was in. After that show, the box with the papers had been moved. I figured they had been thrown away at some point, and thought little more about it.

Until tonight.

I walked up to the dressing room, and for no reason I could deduce found a clip board, with remnants of an old Crucible script attached to it. (Not mine.) But I suppose by now you can guess what happened when I flipped through the pages.

I found my own letter. Unseen, as far as I know, for over 3 and a half years. I had no idea if anyone had, in all of that time ever read it, but as I stood there in the freezing dressing room, listening to the sound of people still on stage downstairs coming through the very same speaker that had done so the night I wrote the letter, I had to remind myself of what I had written to the ether. Allow me to share it with you now...

"To whomever may find this one day...

I am Ty Unglebower. I play the part of Thomas Putnam in the OOH production of The Crucible, which at this moment is in the midst of its opening night. My part for the night is completed. I sit in the dressing room, awaiting the curtain call.

May history record that I felt, at this moment that this production as a whole has been one of the most satisfying I have yet been in during my short acting career, in terms of talent, dedication, cast dynamic, and over pursuit of excellence by all involved. I further would have it known that I was very pleased with both my performance tonight, and that of everyone else involved.

I would have history note, from now on, that I, Ty Unglebower, have no problem believing that community theatre can be both rewarding and powerful. Those who dispute this have not been where I find myself today.

Ty Unglebower, October 24, 2003

The last paragraph was a final "up yours" to those in college who sort of made mocking and deriding community theatre a cottage industry. Most of my peers back then did not care for community theatre, thinking it was beneath the serious actor. With them, and college still fresh on my mind at that point, (I had only graduated the previous year) I wanted to distance myself from such an attitude.

As if it all wasn't ironic enough, the gentleman in this current play that was also in the Crucible, (who i had not seen since the Crucible closed until this show started) came into the dressing room at that point and asked me if I remembered a certain fellow performer from the cast of the Crucible. (Him having no idea i had just found said letter, or that it had ever existed.)

So, quite a night of looking forward, and looking back at the same time.

I plan to make a copy of the note, and then put it right back into the obscure pile of papers I got it from. If it survived this long, who knows who long it may survive from here on out. (Assuming people reading this don;t go looking for it to destroy it or something.)

I always felt the spirit of that important show was with me in some small way every time I went back to the Opera House. Who knew that the physical expression of that sentiment was actually there with me all along, over the last three years, through everything I had done there, somewhere in the dark, forgotten corners of the theatre.

The way things work out sometimes amazes me.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Click on the Horizon

It may be a tired cliche', but it is effective and many actors know what is meant by it. That first rehearsal, first scene, first moment when you feel things in a show just "click". It does not mean perfection, but it means that some dramatic form and consistency has, at that moment, emerged from the chaos of the rehearsal process. When things fall into place, and all the really remains is extra polishing, and some magic.

Sometimes the click doesn't happen by opening night. Sometimes it is not until the second night, or the second weekend. Sometimes, it never happens.

This show has not yet clicked, hence the title. Unlike some shows I have been in, however, I can sense, as the title suggests, that the moment of clicking is on the horizon. I feel confident that in this case, the click will happen before opening night.

First of all, I was able to perform totally off book for act 2 tonight, as required. I did not have to call for any lines. So, I have achieved lower earth orbit as it were, for this production. I have at least once successfully performed both acts of the show without needing to call for lines. I am offbook. It is just a matter of remembering that I am.

The same goes for the rest of the cast. Though there were some notable moments of total confusion for many of us, particularly near the end of the rehearsal, all and all very few mistakes were made. The full extent of how ready we are couldn't be known tonight because one of the leads was absent. Yet, you got the sense people were getting right where they needed to be.

Just as with last night, I enjoyed more freedom to explore the nuances of my character, now that the book is out of my hands permanently. There are still issues to work out, but all and all, from this moment on, it will be about the more fine tuning of the show, and my performance in particular. The meat and potatoes. When luck and magic as mentioned, begin to descend in greater qualities on a production. I look forward to ushering in this period of the rehearsal process.

In some ways I cannot at all believe we open in just two weeks. On the other side of that coin, it does not overtly worry me that we have only two weeks. We are going to be ready.

Also, the stage kiss went off for the first time tonight, with no major problems. I knew we were going to have it in the show, but confess to being a little surprised that it happened today. The actress simply did so before I even knew it was happening. I was not thrown off or anything. I just suddenly realized it was happening. It will now be happening from here on out, I imagine.

Tomorrow we will be having our costume parade. I have no major costume changes, so that should be easy. I need to wear a pair of shorts above my knee. So I will wear what shorts have been provided to see how much they need to be hemmed, if at all. I will have my full costume settled by mid next week, I am willing to say. It is not at all complicated. (A UPS uniform, with a choir robe added later.)

I have also, in the last few nights, been using a hand prop of my own idea. A small hand held Bible of the New Testament, (with Psalms and Proverbs.) It is a perfect size to use on stage, and to help get into/stay in character off stage. I have also developed some small hand gestures unique to the character for the same purpose. (A practice I often take part in.)

So, the click approaches. I await it eagerly.

Belated Entry

Sorry, loyal blog readers. I never got around to posting about last night's rehearsal. Various things got in the way, and I was quite tired. So allow me to do so now.

As I have stated previously, last night was the deadline for all actors to be off book for act one. We were still allowed to call for lines, and this did happen on a handful of occasions. Overall, however, everyone seemed to have act one down rather solid. (Myself included.)

We also had some set pieces in place, as well as some set painting done. Not a completed effect by a long shot, but it is coming along. Coupled with my choice to wear one of my costume pieces, and everyone being mostly off book, it had the beginnings of feeling like a show, as opposed to a rehearsal for a show. The director seemed pleased. Now hopefully all will go just as well tonight, when we are due to be off book for act 2. I would say that for the most part I am. There may be one tiny place where I am a little shaky. I have several hours though, to work on it, and may have it all ironed out by tonight.

That being said, I wanted to take a moment to talk about my accent in the show.

From the beginning the director mentioned that he would rather have no accents, than to have some people doing it correctly, and others not doing well at all. I agreed with that then, and I still do. I myself have used an accent, but mainly because everyone else had been doing so. I have, however, been trying to keep to a minimalist approach. Not everyone in the cast has elected to do so, and that is their choice. I play only one character and am not in a good position to assess how the various accents are blending together, but I think it might be a fair question to ask the director at this stage. Not because what everyone else is doing is my exact business, but rather I feel that as a part of this show, questions concerning the quality of the entire production are well within my right to ask. Not that I feel there is a quality issue at this point. But I wanted to bring it up. Perhaps tonight.

As for me, I myself am fully aware that the accent I am delivering is only generic southern. In all likelihood it bears no great resemblance to how Texans in that particular part of the state sound. I confess I have been slightly wary of using an accent just for the sake of using one in the first place. I imagine people from the south do not like being lumped together anymore than blacks, or Asians, or any other type of culture. So perhaps my question to the director will be more along the lines of that.

More later tonight, on how tonight's rehearsal went.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Oiling the Rusty Wheels

We ran act 2 today. Slowly.

Not that I am complaining. I confess though sometimes it is hard to wait backstage for extended periods of time with nothing to do. However, the reason it sook so long was because the director had many of the leads do several scenes over and over. That means he is paying attention to detail, and that is what I want from a director.

The times when I was on stage went well. The first half of act 2 for me is minor.Just some lines in passing, and nothing more. But then I have the longish speech, (Ibelieve the longest in the show), and a significant "romantic" scene. So the second half of act 2 more than makes up for the first half, in terms of responsibilities for me.

I am proud to say I am about 80% off book for act 2. 90% forthe whole show. I will going to have that 10% taken care of by Tuesday/Wednesday though. No worries.

I am proud in particular of the aforementioned monologue. I am off book forit, and it is started to feel natural for me. The director was also pleased. Until such time as we have an audience, being pleased myself, amd keeping the director pleased are really all that matter, at this stage. So I am satisfied in that regard.

In the final scene, despite my still needing the book, I found myself performing some very natural moments, al be they speechless ones. But that's just fine. I can pretty much always mail down speeches and diologue, given enough time. It is an extra accomplishment to be in the zone for the non-verbal moments. Though it is still early of course, I felt in the zone for those moments today. It felt really nice.

As for the director, he mentioned that he could hearthe "rusty wheels" starting toturn on this production. By that i think he meant that the blocking is mapped out, and most of us are just on the cusp of being offbook, but not quite there yet. (We need to be by Tuesday/Wednesday.) Al of thosefactors present a show that he had everyconfidence would be a well oiled machine, by the time the next three weeks elapse. I am inclined to agree with him. There are noticible rough spots andplaces that need significant work. But unlike someshows, it feels as though there ought to be plenty of time to get around to addressing all such issues. I am not at all nervous, three weeks out, about the progress the show is making.

In other progress, I jut happened to see the cap I will be wearing for the first scene sitting on a pile of costumes today. As we did not run act one, i did not put it on. But because my character is someone who wears that hat quite frequently in the antecedent timeline ofthe play, I am going to start wearing it as much as possible. Break it in. Make is feel worn and a part of my character's whole persona. In other words, it shouldn't look brand new. So I will probably start wearing it between scenes, and in the time I have before rehearsals start in the coming days.

As for the coming days, we have tomorrow off. We report back for act one on Tuesday...where we will begin about 2 weeks worth of running a whole act each night, alternativley. I really start to feel in character when shows get to that point, because whether act one or act 2, you are participating in a more complete story arc, than you are when simply running a few scenes at a time. Yes there will be stops and starts, but each act has an arc, and playing it will help me find the character more. I would not say I am lost with the character now, but I do need some quality, sustained time with him on stage to nail down some of his nuance. Hopefully the coming week will allow me to do that.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A First Look at the Last Scene

That, and two other scenes, were what we blocked today. This officially brings to a close the blocking portion of rehearsing the show. At least the rough blocking. I am sure there will be changes made various times. But the initial blocking for every scene is now under our belts.

Unfortunately, one of these scenes we did today is the one scene I am not even close to being off book for. I have time, and I will make it, but its just so damn annoying to have to hold the book.

Plus the scene is semi-delicate anyway, because I must be romantic, and express being in love. I have done that before, but it is always one of the situations that requires the most in depth concentration and work from me ahead of time. Plus, I get kissed by an actress in this scene. Again, I have been through that before, and when the time comes to rehearse it I will be fine, so long as she is. But it is always something that requires a bit of preparation for when you have never worked with the person you are being kissed by. We did not work the kiss tonight anyway, so it is hardly rel event at the moment, is it?

Overall, I do like where it is going, for the most part. A few things will improve with time. A few other things are just personal preferences. But on the whole, I think we all work well together.

Our next rehearsal is Sunday afternoon, when we do all of act 2. I will see what I can do about being off book by then.