Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Carol Reading, Night One

I wish I could report that tonight's reading of "A Christmas Carol" was well attended. Sadly, I cannot. It could have been worse and for a while during the meet and greet before hand, it looked as though it might have been much worse. (As in, no outside guests.) But a few did trickle in near the end. 15 people total, maybe, out of 70 seats. I am not sure why it was so low. Maybe it being black Friday. Perhaps tomorrow will be better attended. (If you live near Shepherdstown, West Virginia, do stop by!)

The reading itself went well. Sound effects were added today, as was live music between staves. The latter was a nice touch. The former would have been, if there had been fewer snafus.

The biggest of which was a robotic female voice which intoned, "It is not nine o'clock" in the middle of the performance. Not sure what happened. I would have preferred it not to, and it was clear the audience was amused by this. IN that case though, it is hard to blame them. I am sure it will be fixed by tomorrow.

We only rehearsed twice for this, really. We had some blocking ideas and general notes, but basically there was not much we had to be doing. Some of the things we had talked about it became clear on the evening, would not work. (Such as me moving my chair outside of the semi-circle at some point.) But what didn't happen was made up for by a few things that did, which were not planned.

When you are up there doing something like that, which doesn't have every moment drawn on a blueprint, things just sort of come to you. At least they do me. (Though I was once told I had an unusually high level of instinct when it came to moving around on stage.) Whether or not that is true, several things occurred to me tonight in regards to movements and positions as we performed that didn't occur to me before. It is rather hard to explain specifics without being visual, but overall the effect was more movement that was reading friendly, without moving into stage play territory.

I also got some laughs, which I didn't expect. Last minute I decided to pretend like Scrooge was going to hit me in the final scene, where he pretends to be angry at Cratchit. I scrunched my face up really tight, and then looked as perplexed as I could when he raised Bob's salary. I suppose people enjoyed that.

The whole process has been walking that line between a staged reading that keeps interest by having some movement and props, (though I was the only one who ended up with props...a scarf), and not trying to stage a regular play. Because it is adapted to be read, it could never work as an actual play script. And in our second/final rehearsal the other night, we struggled a bit with that. Fighting the urge to have too many crosses, or props and costumes. It's easy to slip into full play mode.

Yet we must not do so. We are not running a play with scripts in out hands. We are conducting a reading a child a bed time story. (Though we hope nobody falls asleep!) Such a presentation cannot be handled as a play.

But I think we have struck a pretty good balance overall. We do it one more time tomorrow night with, (hopefully) more people to watch it.

Check back then to see what happens.

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