Friday, April 23, 2010

The Walls Go Up

For the first time, we rehearsed the entire first half of our production of "Heaven Can Wait."

We just didn't do so in order.

A few people from the first scene had to arrive later in the evening, so we opted to run the third scene (out of three) of the first half, and then go back and run the first two scenes.

The third scene is the longest scene in the play, as I have mentioned before. Though I was mentally prepared to do the second scene, I wasn't thrown when we opted to start with the third. In fact I have to say tonight was the smoothest it has gone so far, and that goes for everybody involved. There is a great deal going on and a lot of lines and blocking to remember just for that scene, and there were no huge difficulties during it that I can recall.

It was going so well in fact that I felt at liberty to experiment a bit. I tweaked the delivery of a few lines because now that the books are gone I have noticed that I am not consistent in some places. My cadence changes somewhat in a  few scenes as compared to others. And while that could be accounted for by the differing action in each scene and probably would not be noticed by anyone but myself, I have never been one to ignore a problem once I spot it. Especially when I know I can iron it out with a bit of effort and attention.

It is a little harder to be snooty and confused or shocked at the same time. It is there that I wish to strike the balance, and it is with that goal in mind that I delivered some of my latter lines differently. It felt good.

The director did have to remind me to grab items with my upstage hand. I know better. But being right handed I sometimes naturally gravitate towards that hand for certain actions. But the table is on my left, which means my left hand would be the upstage hand. So I will have to make a conscious effort to pound that into my mind.

I still am working on retraining myself to cross my legs in the more snooty fashion as opposed to the "cowboy" way of doing so. I am getting better at that, so there is hope for me in getting the upstage hand to do the work in that short section.

All and all the director seemed pleased with the scene. As did some of the other actors in the house, who are not in the scene but were present and able to watch it for the first time, given that they were in the other scenes we were scheduled to do tonight.

One such scene is the prologue for the play. This runs about 15 minutes. Because our assistant director is out due to illness we have all taken turns being on book for the actors on stage should they need to call for lines. It fell to me this evening to be on book for the prologue. And boy did they ever need me.

Not that I am making fun of my talented cast mates. Everyone can have an off day, and by their own admission tonight's run through of the prologue did not go very well in regards to remembering lines. Which is a little weird because it has gone better than that in the last week. (The director herself said this.) It will be better next time, I have no doubt.

The set is also starting to take shape. Three walls. A set of french doors. A platform leading to same. Nothing is painted yet, but it is certainly giving we actors the correct sense of space for the performance area. The ideal is the have all set pieces secured and all set dressing completed with about two weeks to spare before opening. (In other words within about a week from now.) If that ends up being the case it will be one of the fastest set completions for any production I have ever been in. (Sometimes paint is still drying on opening night.)

At the end of the evening after everyone had gone home, the actress playing opposite me, as it were, wanted to work with the director on he very first entrance of the play. The timing for same had been awkward since we first blocked it and she wanted to smooth some things out. I offered to stay behind and take my position on the set for her entrance, so she could run it in the same manner she would during the show. She was very grateful for my offer and accepted.

I always try to help out other actors in that fashion. We are all in this together, and actors should look out for one another within a production and when one of us improves or feels more comfortable, we all do. Plus I know how much easier it is to commit something new to memory when the environment resembles as much as possible how it will look once the show opens. I was glad to help.

Tomorrow has the potential to be a very productive night. Head shots are being taken, and the costume person may show up to take some measurements. Plus the running of the entire second half of the show. I look forward to what that will bring for us all.

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