Sunday's rehearsal was a bit tricky. But not as problematic as it might have been.
For starters, two actors were missing. That always makes the earliest rehearsals more difficult. As a director, I always prefer people to miss rehearsals at the halfway mark or beyond, if they have to miss any at all. Things cannot solidify until everyone is at least familiar with the basic blocking and prop usage. That solidity is delayed when there are a lot of absences in the early weeks. (I think A Thurber Carnival suffered from this problem.) However I don't think this play is paying the price of it just yet. Both actors are expected to return for Thursday. (Though a different will be out that night.)
In addition, more set pieces, props and costume pieces were added to the mix last night. (My favorite being a toilet seat through which Marley's face will appear when opened. Don't worry, it has never been used.)
I like having those things a bit earlier than most people. The outfit for my one scene as the Ghost of Christmas Future is wild. A black mesh over my face and body, in addition to a white hockey mask. Simple, but effective.
Old Joe will have a beat up stove pipe hat, and an eye patch. I don't know which eye it should go on yet, but probably the left, given that for most of that scene I am addressing a character that sits to my right. That would make some degree of eye contact easier.
There were also some new set change assignments. I will have a whole lot to do from a "tech crew" standpoint, with little time in which to do it, in Act Two. That is because I am rarely off the stage for more than 60 seconds or so during the second half of the play. This play will involve much back stage shuffling and quick movements. We took things slow yesterday so it is difficult to determine how much time I actually will have for some of the actions, but I gather I will have just enough time in most cases.
I'm declaring myself off book for the shorter Act One. I have some work to do in the coming days to get off for the second act, but as I was reviewing yesterday before rehearsal, it won't be as daunting as I initially thought. Half of the long scene at Fred's house, (which I felt would give me the most trouble) consists of a word game. I remember how tedious it was to memorize that the last time I was in this production, but I did forget one thing; as Fred this year, as opposed to one of the guests, most of my lines in this section are "Yes" or "no." It will take a lot of repetition to get it between now and Sunday, but perhaps not as much as I thought at first.
Really, that, and the Old Joe scene represent most of my lines. They just happen to be two longer scenes. My lines as Peter Cratchit are few and far between, and as Frederick Dickens I say only two things in the entire act. One line at the top of the half, one line near the very end. So I have work to do, but not quite as much as I had thought a week ago, before I delved into Act Two in earnest.
Being familiar with both the Dickens text, and this script from two years ago doesn't hurt either.
I feel characterizations starting to emerge from my characters, despite still being on book in many places. I look forward to running Act One on Wednesday without the book, so I can take the roles out for a true spin.
Hard to believe we open in just over four weeks. Or that Christmas itself is just over eight weeks away for that matter.