Friday, February 08, 2008

Turning the Corner for The Lion in Winter

My apologies for not writing about last night's rehearsal until today. But yesterday was one of the longest days I have had in a while, and when I got home, I just rested.

It was, however, quite the satisfying evening at the chapel of rehearsal.

For a while, only myself, "Eleanor" and "Alais" were present, along with the director. Those three characters do not have a scene that is just them, so we ran the scene where Geoff confronts Eleanor about her "indifference." We ran it more than once actually. I was happy to do this for two reasons. One, it is one of my favorite scenes to play, short as it is. Secondly, I like going over pieces several times in a row. For many actors, this can get tedious, and in fact past a certain point, I am one of those people as well. But the chance to work through, to truly iron out an exchange, or a scene, is something I welcome. We have not had many chances to rehearse this show, truly, (only twice a week, which is not alot for a show of this magnitude), so I am quite happy to take advantage of whatever opportunities show up for some extra work on some of my moments.

Previously, Geoff had entered this scene, as Eleanor, in defeat, lamented, and perused her jewelry box of treasures. Geoff came in, presumably to deliver some news about some actions he had taken, and suddenly approached her and knelt beside her, distracted for a moment by her grandeur. It was, as played, Geoff's most vulnerable and human moment in the play.

Last night, the since of vulnerability and wonder was kept, but approached differently. Now, as I come in, I will and kneel, I too will be routing through the jewels with Eleanor. This makes the scene somewhat less somber while still conveying the same rare since of a Geoffrey that is not plotting. It does not last long of course, as he is still Geoffrey, but it made the scene feel more organic to me. It is a change I am pleased with.

"Eleanor", the actress, gives so much to me in the scene, too. All of this conspires to make the scene, already one of my three favorite, even more satisfying.

As more actors showed up, we worked on the scene in King Philip's bedroom. This scene I dislike. Not because I dislike the actor playing Philip. Not because the lines are especially difficult in this scene. Truth be told, I don't know the precise reason I dislike playing that scene. It is probably a combination of things. One of them being that Geoffrey's motivations in the scene are the least clear of all the scenes. As with most plays, there are multiple ways of looking at it, but anyone I choose confounds me a bit.

Not to mention, it requires myself and "John" to be behind a curtain for what feels like an hour and a half when one is not doing anything but standing and waiting in a tiny space. (And we have not even run that scene in the actual performance hall yet...)

So, all and all, even great shows have their weaker moments, and that scene is one of them for me, personally. Ironically, this is the scene that leads into intermission. But no matter, it will come together somehow.

Despite missing "John", we ended the evening, (which ran longer than usual), by running the final scene in the wine cellar. I do no want to give too much away, but at some point, the Princes are planning an escape involving knives. Before last night, I had delivered my lines while only looking or gesturing towards the knives in question. Last night, I was permitted to pick one up when they first arrive.

What a difference a prop can make! The lines in that scene while i have the knife have never felt more visceral or potent. Holding it, pointing with it, simply standing there with it gave the scene an edginess I enjoyed playing. I have no doubt I could have given the scene what it needed anyway, I will not deny, nor feel shame for, the instant improvement to my energy which carrying the prop brought forth.

All and all, despite some trouble spots, the energy and depth of feeling in the scenes last night was a marked improvement from previous practices. Hence the title of this entry...several times when rehearsing my scenes, and watching some of the others, I got that familiar feeling that the "click" was imminent. It did not arrive last night, but I can hear it in the distance. Energy, power, attitudes of the performers, all were starting to coalesce. We are, without a doubt, gaining on it.

I stumbled briefly once or twice with lines in this scene. They came to me quickly, though. Frequent reviewing between now and the next rehearsal on Sunday should take care of that.

So would, I imagine, the impromptu line rehearsal that was scheduled for tonight. Unfortunately, I already had other plans for later this evening, and will not be able to attend that session. However, I gave my word to the director I would continue to run my lines myself.

Also, some future tech people showed up at rehearsal last night. At least, I believe that is what they were there for. One is "Eleanor's" real life son. The other is a techie I have worked with once before, about a year ago. So, even the technical aspects are taking shape.

Speaking of that, one final note today about tech "week". It will be quite a problematic one. We will only have two actual tech rehearsal nights in the performance venue. And those will take place several days before opening. This means that we will have to have extra long rehearsals each of those nights. I do not mind the extra rehearsals, but I am a tad worried about the length of time between them, and opening. I have never gone that far between a full tech and an opening before.

Plus, we will be rehearsing both at the director's home, and at the chapel, in the days leading up to opening. I am not sure what the sensation of rehearsing the night before opening in a different venue than we will be performing in will be like. A bit disorienting, I would imagine. But it cannot be helped, and at least we have the theatre to perform in. So it is not all bad. It will, however, be another significant obstacle to overcome.

Two weeks from tomorrow, we open. If you are nearby, make your reservations now.


Muzak Box said...

Rehearsing away from the space can actually be a bit refreshing and can create a fresher opening night than complete familiarity with the space. I did a show once where we had to do all but our first hell week rehearsal at the directors house due to a flooding issue and when we stepped onto the stage the whole thing was so alive because it felt so real and new. I say do your best to use it!

Anonymous said...

Love this show. Played Richard ages ago..."Here stands your lamb. Come, cover him with kisses...he's all yours." One of my favorite roles of my career