Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Little Bit of Everything, Good and Bad

What a cacophonous disjointed affair the first half of tonight's rehearsal turned out to be.

One of the aspects about community theatre is that people come in to make their contributions only when they can. (Though actors have the least amount of leeway in this regard.) Not to mention the fact that the community venue is often a place where multiple voluntary arts projects make their home. Ergo in almost every community theatre production there will be at least one day wherein everything and anything is happening at the exact same time, and often to the detriment of optimal rehearsal conditions. It's nobody's personal fault per se, but such days are, nonetheless, vexatious at times.

For about an hour, tonight was one of those nights.

Our director is out of state for the time being. This will be the only rehearsal she expects to miss, but whenever a director to whom a cast is accustomed cannot be present for a rehearsal, there is always a small increase in stress. At least it is so for me. The only exception to this would be a final dress rehearsal or so, wherein the stage manager is running the techie affairs, and the actors are on auto pilot. Our show has not reached auto-pilot stage, so having the director absent presented a bit of a curve ball for myself. Theatre after all thrives on consistency backstage, and innovation ON stage.

Add to this the live dog, which was present again this evening and was sick several time earlier in the day according to her master. Thankfully this illness did not present itself in the theatre during rehearsal, but the creature did seem more irritable and vocal this evening than usual. We did not get to any of the scenes in which the animal appears, so I can't speak as to how well such scenes would have gone. Perhaps that was for the best.

It did not stop with the canine. Our extras were added today. We require about a half a dozen walk on players, and they made their debut today. They have only a short presence, but that doesn't make them take up less space backstage.

Then there was someone I assumed to be the set foreman that showed up halfway through rehearsal needing to use the drill on one of our set pieces off stage. To his credit, he drilled very slowly, and worked as quietly as possible in the very cramped shop. But a small distraction nonetheless.

In addition to the foreman, our costume designer also showed up this evening. She brought with her many costumes for several of the actresses to try on. This unfortunately left the most convenient bathroom for actors off limits for about a half an hour.

So between a under-the-weather dog, fittings, drills, closed bathrooms, 4 or 5 extra actors, and a few other things, it probably won't surprise you to learn, loyal blog readers, that there was a bit more noise than I am accustomed to working with coming from off stage. Believe me, I know perfect silence is not always attainable, but for a while there all the extra static had the decibel level up higher than my comfort zone. And I concede that my performance suffered at times. I pride myself on shutting out most distractions, but noise in the wings has always been mild kryptonite to me.

One distraction that was in a way good to have, but came a little too early for me, was laughter from the house. The extras who were present, as well as our recently arrived stage manager were seeing the scenes for the very first time, and thus there were laugh lines. I don't mind them, and of course want there to be plenty of them when the time comes. I was just caught off guard by them today. (Though I think a few of the times they laughed weren't intended to be funny.)

So to repeat, a lot of distractions.

By the time we wound down the first run through of the first half though, the distractions had mostly dissipated. We received notes from the assistant director, and ran the first half again.

This second run through was worlds better. Fewer lost lines and a much snappier pace. Several of my scenes are starting to feel very natural between myself and the others on stage, and it is exciting to note.

One thing that didn't quite feel totally natural was some prop work between myself and one of the lead actors. For the first time tonight, a pair of boxing gloves were thrown at me, as the script requires. Never really knowing how they would fly, I wasn't sure either time just exactly what I should do as they hurled toward me. The first time they just sort of glazed my hand and ended up next to me. The second time I somehow managed to deflect them in such a way that they sailed behind the chair in which I was sitting. (Fearing someone would trip, I picked one up and moved it during a later scene, as it landed right in a high traffic area.) But I didn'[t lose my place despite the out of control gloves. I am proud to mention that.

While on the subject of props, I'll mention that I got a new prop today. A ledger/checkbook combination thing, for a scene in which I cut a check for a character. I also learned that I will be using an actual blanks pistol, though another one will be shot off stage for the sound effect for when I fire a shot.

I also brought a "worry bead" with me tonight. I thought it would make a snooty little extra for my character to be engaged in whilst he plots and plans.

As for the set, my hope is that they will also spike the furniture soon. It seems to migrate to different places every time we run the show. More then once actors has to nonchalantly slide entire couches out of the way in anticipation of future crosses.

Also of note, the set was painted. The large parts at any rate. I never went on Saturday to help paint, because the entire thing was finished up by two people in one shift. Trim remains to be painted though, so I supposed I will help out with that when the time comes.

I don't have a lot of nuanced performance related news to share this particular evening. As we begin our final non-tech rehearsals I am sure those things will be sharpened to a finer point this week, and I will have more artsy acting related thoughts to share than I do now. But until then I will declare the show to be off the ground now, to continue a previous plane metaphor. Or at least, nose up. The tail section will soon be in the air as well.

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