Friday, October 29, 2010

Bookless (Mostly)

I decided to go ahead and cover two nights of rehearsal on one entry, since both were similar in regards to progress.

I went off book for as much of them as I could.

First off, Wednesday night was Act One. We weren't due to be off book yet, but I, along with several other, opted to give it a try. Given that I already knew I was off book for the first half, I felt pretty confident, and sure enough I didn't have to call for any lines. So, the important (mentally) milestone of performing the entire first act without my book for the first time is behind me. This milestone doesn't guarantee that there will be no mistakes from here on out. Far from it. But once I perform and act or a scene without book and without line calls, all parts of my brain have proof that it is no possible. That a threshold has been crossed, and that the synapses begin to fire in a different way. They approach performance mode, where character issues begin to take the front seat.

Not that the evening was ideal. One of the actors had to leave after only about 45 minutes of rehearsing. And the vast majority of what he does takes place in the second half of the first act. So we had to do the all too familiar "phantom blocking", that is to say, pretending to speak and interact with someone who isn't there, leaving a physical space open for where they should be. A sometimes troublesome thing to do so early and so often.

Nonetheless, I am pleased with my progress for Act One on the night. And for that of most everyone else as well. Especially the scene between Scrooge and his nephew, Fred. That one has great energy and interaction already. The scene between Young Scrooge and Belle I think also promises to be a strong scene.

Act Two was tonight, and as I have mentioned there is more blocking, more set changing, and for me, more responsibility, both as an actor and in a technical capacity. Not everything is in place to rehearse all technical elements, but a fair portion of them were. I am glad of this, because the more I can practice that long list of things, the more comfortable with it I will feel.

But first, the acting portion of tonight. I again attempted to go off book for most of the act. Much to my delight I was able to get through the long party scene at Fred's house, (my longest single scene) only calling for lines twice during the first go around. I didn't have to call for them at all during the second run through of Act Two tonight. Including the word game sequence. That had originally been the scene I thought would take me the longest to memorize, but based on tonight, that wasn't the case. The other actors in it are not yet off book, so I will have to see how it feels when they are. But for now, I am pleased with my progress on the lines.

And with the feel of the scene. I still have to remember to keep the joy up, because Fred is a joyful, boisterous fellow. I can do better, but I am keeping it at a decent level for now. The director allowed me to walk about the room during the word game sequence, instead of remaining seated. That helped add a lot of energy to my work in the scene. Once everyone else is off book for it, I am sure the scene will be even more dynamic.

The only scene for which I carried my script on stage was the Old Joe scene. In every play there is a scene that always ends up being the last to enter your mind, and that's the one this time. But I have until next Wednesday to have it memorized, (We do Act One again on Sunday), so I have no doubt I will be ready to go. Especially since I was able to be off book for everything else tonight.

I mentioned some of the scene and costume changes. We still pause a great deal between scenes to clarify and confer. But we have already incorporated many of these things into the rehearsals, and though some of it is bound to change, I don't have any sense of my being rushed to get anything done, so long as I keep moving.

We did change the mask that Christmas Future will be wearing. It had been a hockey mask, but is now some kind of...I can't really describe it. It's just a nondescript though eerie white face. It works well, (though I myself only wear it for mere moments.)

Accents are coming along as well. I have some work to do, but in the last day or so I have found the beginnings of distinctions between the characters I will be playing. Keeping Frederick Dickens and Fred the Nephew distinct will probably be the biggest challenge in that department. But given that I am playing Fred in a boisterous manner, and that Frederick is more subdued, I should think difference will naturally emerge.

My hope is to emulate, as much as I can without caricature, the voice of the actor playing Scrooge when I am playing Young Scrooge. That will be most most difficult single accent, I think.

We open 4 weeks from tomorrow. Black Friday itself. Knock on wood, the progress for this show continues to feel rapid. Next week being the first set of rehearsals during which we are required to be off book will be a bit rough, they always are, but we are ahead of where many plays would be four weeks out.

Next rehearsal is Sunday. Act One.

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