Tonight was the longest rehearsal thus far for "Heaven Can Wait" with the Potomac Playmakers. But it was not quite the dragging, grueling experience that I had thought it might be.
Part of the reason for that may be that I only have a medium sized role, but one that allows me to be doing something at regular intervals during Act 2. (What we went over today.) Part of that might also be that I am accustomed to three plus hour rehearsals. Granted it has not happened in a while, but I've experienced four hour rehearsals before. Sometimes such experiences get to me, but by and large I have not been adversely effected by long rehearsals.
I most cases I have friends I can talk to during the long rehearsals. I am getting to know the people in this show, but none of the friends from previous shows are in this, so I didn't even have that to make it easier, and yet i still didn't mind. Perhaps, shock of shocks, I am becoming a more patient man as time goes on. Heaven forbid, right?
Act 2,Scene 1 is the longest section of the play. Originally we were going to run the entire scene, and then run it again, but the decision was made early one to break it into informal French scenes, and replay each of those sections twice in a row before moving on. The director thought that would help pound lines into our head that we hadn't quite committed to memory yet.
On the subject of lines, everyone did a fairly good job at being off book for most of Act 2 this evening. (Especially those with the really large parts.) The overall off book quotient wasn't as high for the last third of the material we covered tonight, but that is to be expected, I think. Fatigue sets in, and those were in fact sections that we have not had much of a chance to go over so far.
For my own part, I suppose I cannot complain about my progress. I did call for a line very briefly 3 or 4 times during the evening, but I am happy to report I didn't have to call for the same lines twice at any given point. (Which says to me that they are starting to solidify in my mind.) I still want several section to come a lot more smoothly than they did, but tonight proved that what needs to be in my brain is there now. It just needs some time to take root, as it were. The same with my blocking.
The director told us that tonight was mainly for us, as opposed to her, or the overall vision of the play. A chance to get those roots I mentioned to take for all of us by getting the words said and the blocking used at the same time without books in hands. Deeper characterization will come next week, but I am proud of some of the choices I have made tonight and last night either way. Thus far I have not been told they are wrong choices, and in a few cases were told they were good choices. This pleases me, and I hope of course it continues.
One somewhat embarrassing moment came for me when I was in the prop room looking at props when I was called to the stage for a bit of blocking. So I had to be summoned more than once and held things up for a few moments. I was acting under the assumptions that I had nothing left to do in the scene, and that I would be able to hear the director is she called me. Wrong on both counts, but in my own defense, I had never been asked to perform the action in in previous rehearsals of that scene. But nobody yelled at me, so I suppose all is well.
In a way tonight was the most nerve wracking sort of rehearsal. The first off book rehearsal for the longest part of the play. There will be rehearsals in the coming weeks that are just as long, and take up just as much or even more energy, (there is a reason they call it "Hell Week"), but there will not be that fear of "doing it" for the first time. The initial spreading of the wings that is being off book is completed for the lion's share of the play, and from here on out I know what to expect. I have received my very first reading on the frequency of the signal, and that will help set the tone for the rest of the production.
So while it was not terrible, I am glad tonight's rehearsal is now behind us, and that we can get on to other things now, without having to cross that particular threshold.
The thoughts of the cast also are with our assistant director who had surgery yesterday, (I forgot to mention it then.) So we hope for a speedy recovery for her.
The next rehearsal is Monday evening; our first off book rehearsal for what the script calls Act 3. (But will not be a separate act in our production.) I am not concerned with that rehearsal much, as I have only 5 lines or so in the entire act, and I am off book for them now. My appearance in Act 3 or mostly about non-verbal acting, a subject I love to talk about.
But not tonight. Tonight I will give myself rest from the script, and get back to reviewing lines and blocking sometime tomorrow.
Four weeks from tonight, we open the show.