Friday, February 29, 2008

The Final Rehearsal

When you think about it, that's what a pick up rehearsal is. At least when you are just doing a two weekend show. Believe it or not, I never really thought of a pick-up in that light before. I guess usually it is just a rest stop between weekends...often times a sort of exciting time, as I head into the second weekend of a show after a break.

This time, it just seemed like a final rehearsal.

But then again the pick-up rehearsal is always a bit of a strange creature to me. Some plays have them. Some do not. I think all should, on the community level. One show I was in had half of one, skipping all of my action, and I did in fact feel cheated. That was because the rest of the cast did was is often the temptation to do...turned the rehearsal into a farce.

I am not certain when this tradition came about, or why it did. I can see, perhaps, the thought behind it. "We have already successfully performed the show one whole weekend, so we have it. There is no need to be tense now. We can kick back a bit, and enjoy ourselves for a change at a rehearsal."

This is not without merit. And I do think that a pick-up should be more light hearted, in most cases than a tech week rehearsal, it should not be out of control either.

The fact remain, however, that most directors I have worked for have insisted on a totally straight up pick-up rehearsal. That is what happened last night, though, like most "serious" pick-ups, there were moments of levity during the performances. Probably about as much as could be handled. Maybe a little more was possible.

All that aside, it is still a strange feeling. Having gotten over tech week, and the concerns of an opening night and weekend. Then having had nothing to do with the show for several days. Then, to return, and do the show again. Sometimes it feels like a half-asleep/half-awake dream; the goal of the rehearsal is still there, but the anticipation, pressure, stress and calculation is not. As though we were all putting on a play about a bunch of people rehearsing. (This touch of surrealism is what I think contributes to the goof off versions of pick ups.)

Ours was made extra weird by the fact we had none of our props or furniture. In most cases, you use the same set and props. But due to logistics, we could not. Which is fine, we did not really need them at this point. But, being totally off book, with block and lines, and having performed the show twice, it was weird to be that far along, and using just folding chairs in the chapel to represent all of the furniture. As though we had all gone back in time 6 weeks, and replaced our "early production" selves, but forgot to bring our stuff.

The pick-up rehearsal...

As for the actual work done, it was productive, weirdness aside. Each character, said the director, had "new moments" they brought to the rehearsal. Extra glances, different line deliveries. Keener insights into speeches. I myself felt a few places, (maybe two or three) where I felt open to something different. The pressure being off, I suppose, and the 5 days break allowed more muses to come into play, I would gather. One of the upsides to the oddness of the pick-up.

"Alais" came to me afterwards. She decided, for her own sake, to add a bit of back story between my character (Geoff) and her own. To give her something to work on, or play around with mentally when she has less to do up front.

I agreed to this.

Indeed, Alais does have some intense scenes center stage, which are often followed by long periods of saying nothing. I can understand why the actress would want something to play with. I am lucky, in that regard. Geoff is often in the background, but I know why he is; Geoff is always processing the data that is coming in. Always gathering information, processing in, making use of what he can, and discarding the rest. Planning. Configuring. As Henry describes him he's not flesh but "A device, with wheels, and gears". When I spend so much time in the background with nothing to say, I have the benefit of spinning those gears, inwardly. Hopefully that shows, outwardly, should someone choose to watch me during one of those scenes.

Exactly what kind of history "Alais" has in mind, I know not. I will ask her on Saturday. Perhaps. Maybe it would be more organic if I did not. I will ponder the notion.

Two more performances. Then I am without a show again, and I must begin looking for the next theatrical adventure. Nothing jumps out at me. The Old Opera House not only has set some policy changes that I find uncomfortable, but the next show is "Bye,Bye, Birdie"...something I have no interest in. I have no idea what other area theatres are doing.

But first things first. Another reminder for any loyal blog readers that are nearby to come see me in "The Lion in Winter". The link for the Full Circle Theater Company is in my links section. Go there for info.


MuzakBox said...

My favorite pick-ups are the speed through. We once did a 2 hour performance in slightly under an hour. Granted a good deal of it had to do with the ridiculously truncated blocking we ended up doing in order to keep the lines coming rapid fire.

Another one was everyone did the show as though they were ridiculously drunk except for the one character who was supposed to be drunk who played it straight. I can't explain how ridiculous it was.

Basically I think these ridiculous play moments in rehearsal really help inform the show for performance though. After the speed one the pace for the show was so tight that I wish we had run one like that prior to opening. And with the drunk one every character found out something completely new about a scene or a relationship that continued to inform the show longer into the run.

I despair at shows that do not have regular pick ups. The company that I recently became a regular at really doesn't have time with the Wednesday through Sunday schedule and although we always remain on top of our show (I mean we only get two days away!) it starts to have that 'this again?' feel for the actors.

Tobi said...

I was at the show on Saturday night, as you know cause I'm your sister and I was in the front row! Anyway, I totally noticed the "stuff" (I don't know what to call it since I am not an actor but you will know what I refer to) between Geoff and Alais in the background. Matter of fact it was so good that I thought something about you and her would come out in the main theme of the play! So interesting to me now to learn that it was just a back story that she and you had worked out together. It worked well. I loved the play and also watched the movie last night. I had forgotten how funny it really was and how much we as a family can relate to some of the less deadly lines in it. I totally related to your character on many levels. Kevin liked it to.--Tobi