Friday, October 22, 2010

Cruising with Scrooge

It may be difficult for me to be 100% objective about our progress in A Christmas Carol, given that I was in the exact same version, in this exact same venue a mere two years ago. My high level of familiarity with the piece may give me a false impression of how far along we are. I will concede that. But I have to say that I honestly do not believe this is the case. Not totally anyway. I feel we are legitimately moving forward rather quickly. And from what I can tell, the director agrees with that.

We are short one actor for a few days, as I have mentioned before, so that slows things down a bit. And there re block issues dealing with furniture that are posing some problems. But any given scene, even some for which the actors are not off book, is starting to develop quite well.

Act Two was on the agenda this evening, though we didn't get to run it twice. That isn't surprising because I think the second Act takes a little longer than the first. It at least feels that way, but that may be because most of the complicated blocking is in that act. Either way, we went through it once on Thursday night, and good things were happening.

My character is supposed to juggle fruit at the beginning of the act. I was given some fake fruit last night with which to work. I do not know how to juggle. At least, I do not know how to juggle more than two objects. I messed around and was able to "juggle" two peaches, but I didn't think that would be considered actual juggling. A few people said that is was still juggling though, so perhaps that will be all I will have to do for the scene. I'm willing to try to learn three objects, I just can't make any assurances of how quickly I can do so. It is nice to know that I can fall back on just juggling two, without ruining the scene.

(On a side note I am starting to think I should learn to juggle three objects anyway, even after this play closes. This makes two shows in a row where juggling was involved, and it actually comes up more often on the stage than one would think.)

The most difficult scene to do anything with last night was the party at Fred's house. "Topper" is a large part of that scene, and the scene requires quite a bit of blocking. But the actor playing him is the one that was missing, so there was no way or blocking it out in detail last night. That one will have to wait for the actor's return to start taking shape. It also just so happens to be my longest scene with the most lines.

Either way the key to it is to remain as joyful as I can make the character without looking fake. If ever a character of mine should "glow", it would be Fred.

I play Peter Cratchit, Bob's "other" son twice in Act Two, first during the Christmas Present, and then during Christmas Future. In both scenes he doesn't have much to do, and really only has a few throw away lines. I add some depth to him as time goes on, but I find him to be the least interesting character I play in this show.

Then there is the Old Joe scene, with the laundress and the undertaker and others trying to pawn the stuff they stole from the dead Scrooge. Time has softened it's impact on us, but when you consider it deeply, it is probably one of Dickens' richest scenes, despite its brevity. And, I imagine to his contemporary, quite off putting. We may not be able to land that sort of impact with today's audiences, but I feel that scene can quickly descend into character if we are not careful with our performance. One of my main goal for the scene is to avoid that. The director complimented the progress of this scene particularly last night. I feel it will end up being a fun scene to do.

I should also point out that at the start of the "Future" segment, I play the Spirit of Christmas Future. For literally one small scene. Afterward, another actor takes over the role, so I can actually play Old Joe and Peter later. A very strange snag in the script as written. I imagine it was an issue of the playwright needing to have certain base characters play certain roles, and to give the actors some time to change. (Though I am on stage almost constantly for much of Act Two as it is.)

Some more props were in place for last night's performance as well, such as the fruit I mentioned. Having such things always adds to the rehearsal process, but only if books are out of everyone's hands. As I have said, mine is not for most of Act Two. (Though I could make it without one in Act One, and may try that the next time we run through it.) So without a doubt, extra work on memorizing Act Two is my most important task in the play for the next 9 days.

One other thing of interest; one of the board members of the theatre told me an audience member mentioned my blog after a performance of A Thurber Carnival earlier this month. It is nice to know it is being read by people who actually come to see the shows. I imagine that would add an interesting element to seeing a local production. If said person if reading now, much thanks!

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