Sunday, July 05, 2009

Thursday and Friday

Like my snazzy title?

My apologies for not documenting the events sooner. With the holiday weekend and other such things, it slipped through the cracks of my schedule.

Thursday night's rehearsal was originally supposed to cover all of "Act One". (And in this context, I mean the first half of the show before intermission.) We did not quite get there, as most of the people in the cast could not, despite knowing it may be needed, stay late to finish things up. And though I got to run some of my scenes, I did not get to run my best scene from the first half. And in fact, I have not run it yet.

All kinds of circumstances that would not be proper to get into here have contributed to what even the director admits is a bit of a slow moving process; one that is behind where it really should be at this point. I confess that even I am a bit nervous in more than a few ways. We never had a lot of time to get a Shakespeare show together anyway, and with all of the difficulties we have been facing, I feel less into my character, less settled, a bit less focused, than I am used to being 6 days before a show opens. I also admit to being worried about having not run all of my scenes yet.

It is by running them on stage with the actors that truly commits the lines to memory, and opens up the mind to creativity and nuance within a performance. Yet with actors still holding books, people being missing, and other problems, that has not been able to happen yet. And it seems that it is often the scenes that I am in that get sacrificed for the sake of time. It is not personal, but it is this rate, I will at most, get only 4 more times, and possibly only three. If we run the whole show each day next week, (with Wednesday off), that means I will have 3 chances at best to actually experience most of my scenes as I will in the performance. (Romeo will be missing for one of those days, and 85% of my lines are with him.)

I am also usually in costume by now, and I have not, as of yet, found anything that will work for it.

Long story short, I actually felt nervous performing some of those scenes for the first time, without book. I really should not be feeling that way in the final week. That is when it should be clicking. It actually should have clicked for me before now, which is one reason I am a bit concerned.

To be honest, I do not, beyond this, remember much of what I did accomplish on Thursday. Suffice to say that I got to run some moments for the first time ever, which relieved some of the pressure within me. The scenes that remain unrun, still, with less than a week left are replacing that pressure and fear, however. I have never been this close to an opening without having run all of my scenes before...

Friday I remember more about. "Act Two". (After intermission.) Again, not all of my scenes were run, but the most significant things that I do for the second half we did in fact get to. The first being my delivering, in its proper context, the hideously long and boring speech that explains the sleeping potion plan. I got it all out. Not totally natural feeling, but I did it. I have it. Hopefully there is time to polish it up.

Skipping around the script a bit, (given that once again a large portion of the actors had to leave early), we moved to the last scene. A big scene for me, wherein I discover Romeo, my surrogate son of sorts, laying dead. And the resolution of the play following.

I confess at that point I was more frustrated with the proceedings than I had been up to that point. I had been, on two different occasions, been building up to performing that final scene, to make sure I had the emotional power I wanted for it. On two different occasions I was unable to get to it. So on Friday when jokes, laughing, a lack of focus, half hearted readings, and just overall noise elongated a 2 minute segment into over a half an hour of work, I finally pleaded with the entire group to please just run the scene.

I probably should not have said anything. It probably was not my place, but I very quickly saw my chance to run the all important final scene once again slipping away, and I really needed to run that moment that night, and as many times as I can between now and the opening of the show. So, just loud enough to be heard above the fray of actors laughing and bouncing off of the walls I said, "Can we just run the scene, please?"

That doesn't sound too horrible, I realize, but it wasn't my place to say anything. I have no authority over the production, being just an actor. But as an actor, I felt that not all of my fellow actors were being as productive at that moment as others.

It did calm done a bit for the final 20 minutes then, during which we ran the final scene. (With a new actor for the first time..."Montague" quit the show.) It went well, I would say over all, though the blocking will not be exactly as it should be until we have the actual slab on which Romeo and Juliet will lie. It can make for an interesting take on the ending, if we polish it enough.

As for my part, I am happy to report I was in fact able to sum up the depth and type of emotion I wanted for the discovery of Romeo. I have not had much occasion to cry in character in my career, and as with all things the key is to not over do it while at the same time being removed enough from the tone of the rest of my performance to have an impact on the audience. I believe, personally, I achieved this. (I am not sure what the director thought of it, though...she did not comment on it.) Hopefully, I can polish that in the next precious few days.

That last 15 minutes in fact is going to be quite a roller coaster for me. I have to go from bewilderment, to worry, to devastation, to defeat, and than to strength, all within the course of the last scene. Just the anticipation of doing it last night had my nerves keyed up a bit. (Which is why it is stressful to build up to tackling that scene, and not being able to do it.) I imagine it will only become more pronounced as the performance gets closer. My prayer is that by running it 3 more times (at best, sadly), it will become natural enough for me to be at ease with it.

In fact, that will be the goal of all of my scenes. I am thankful that some of them are at last under my belt. But it means that a great deal more will have to be accomplished with the scenes I have not yet run, than otherwise would have to be, had I been running them sooner. I wish to heaven for one more week.

But I shall not get it. The only 2 performances are coming at the end of this week. And I have much work to do. (I confess to needing the book for my final speech...) I am upset at myself for letting distractions get in the way of my memorization, but I have already gotten more off book sense last night, and will continue to work on the final speech or two tomorrow until I leave for rehearsal at 6PM. That should give me three whole performances during which to deliver all of my lines off book. I just hope it's enough. It will have to be.

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