Tonight we blocked the last scene in which I appear. Act 3, Scene 1. This scene contains my fewest number of lines, and even less blocking. In fact, I am sitting on a couch for about 90% of it.
The same goes for the actress playing my wife. And at her feet will be sitting a dog.
A real dog.
This was mentioned as a possibility a few weeks ago. At least I has thought it was a possibility. It was in fact a certainty. But until two dogs, (I suppose one was a stunt double) waddled into the theatre today, I didn't know this.
Cute dogs. I think bull dogs, but I am terrible with knowing breeds. The breed however is not so much the problem as my potential reaction to them.
You see, I am allergic to many different types of dogs. And I had to bring up this fact during our break tonight. I would have mentioned it weeks ago but as I said, I didn't realize that the dogs would actually be there. (I apparently was absent the last time they showed up.)
Sometimes a dog doesn't effect me at all. Some dogs make my eyes water a bit. Some make them bloodshot. Then there is the sneezing. There really is no way of knowing how any given dog will effect me until I am around it enough. Which is why I assured the director that there was not yet a reason to get rid of the idea of using the dog for my sake. I cannot promise it won't come to that, but I am relieved to know they are willing to take that step if my reaction ends up being unmanageable. (I am on no prescription medicines.)
Returning to the subject of my few lines an easy blocking, though, the director mentioned the unique challenge of such scenes. It is a topic I have touched upon previously here on the blog as well. That when there are many characters on stage at one time, and there is a lot going on between each of one's lines, it because extra important to make sure an actor reacts to the action going on around them. This is true all the time of course, but the temptation to tune out is greatest when there are large gaps between one's lines within a scene. But the acting must be constant, and I have always prided myself on my ability to take in what is going on around me during such a scene, and process an in-character response to same. A character must always have some kind of business.
I very much enjoy coming up with such things. Sitting on a couch will not allow me to do much other than whisper to my co-star, but perhaps I can come up with some smaller goals as well.
Now that I know what all my movements will be at this point, I can work on memorizing them all, as well as getting off book for all of my lines. Plus each rehearsal from here on out will be dedicated strictly to building character, establishing atmosphere, and all the other nitty gritty theatrical goodness. I look forward to entering this phase of the production.
A small twist on this idea for this show: there are several character on the stage during the scene that cannot be seen or heard by everyone. So we all must remain ever cognizant of when it is appropriate for us to react to a line, and when it is not.