It's a bit silly, I know, but I am finally getting around to posting about the first full rehearsal for A Christmas Carol at the Full Circle Theater Company, which took place on Thursday. A couple of things, including my desire to write about the five year anniversary of the launch of this blog got in the way of a more timely post. But given that we have not had any further rehearsals since, playing catch up won't be too hard.
To start with, I don't recall a time in my community theatre career that I have begun one production so soon after concluding another, within the same venue. A Thurber Carnival was, in so many ways, such a trying experience that I have made an effort to put it behind me more completely than most shows once they have concluded. Yet to show up at the theatre a mere 72 hours after leaving the strike for Thurber made that somewhat more difficult.
It was a bit surreal. So recently had the theatre been dedicated to the madness that was Thurber, I still expected to see any given Thurber cast mate walk around any given corner. The Thurber set was minimal, so the stage appeared basically the same as it had been and I found myself once or twice moving back stage in anticipation of avoiding some of that show's furniture and props, which of course weren't there any longer. (Though we are using one of that show's benches in these rehearsals for a while.)
The only actual traces of the previous show were the party hats and bubbles from the atrocious opening dance number, stored on a nearby shelf, a cast strike assignment sheet that someone had not taken down, and one of the signs in the green room which gave the order of the Thurber skits. That's all. Well that, and memories of some of the stress and noise of the last show. Which made the first rehearsal for A Christmas Carol feel unusually quiet and subdued, despite the cast size being roughly the same.
I won't dwell on this transition issue too much longer, but I did want to mention it here because of the unique strangeness. Often when I return to a venue to be in a show, I am met with the ghosts of the last show I performed there, no matter how long ago it was. A cast invests so much time, energy, and thought into getting a show done that it leaves a stamp on the environment. (As does six weeks worth of props, personal trinkets, left over food containers, and trash from the various members that made the facility an evening home of sorts each night for several weeks.) The whole ghost experience took on a whole new feel stepping back into a venue so soon after strike.
But new it was, and I was there to start A Christmas Carol. Which we did. Most efficiently, (especially when compared to some of the Thurber rehearsals...) This version, as I have mentioned, is written by Michael Paller, and as such includes a prologue, and an opening scene in which Dickens himself and his friends are actual characters in Dickens' attic. They have gathered to perform the story themselves. It was this initial scene in the attic, which sets up the telling of the classic Christmas tale, which we blocked on Wednesday.
It has it's own set of ghosts attached to it, and I don't mean of Christmas Past. More of Shows Past. Given that I did this play in this same venue two years ago. (And I have never performed the same script twice, until now.) Plus I hear my previous character's lines being read during the scene, and they sound familiar to me, though I am not delivering them myself. But my current lines are also familiar, as I remember a friend of mine delivering them the first time. Thankfully, the room in which to work is not such a reminder of the past; we have more space available to us, both on stage and off stage, than we did for the 2008 version.
As I mentioned last week, I don't plan to get into the same sort of details as I blog about this production as I might for a show to which I was coming in cold. I hope to dedicate posts to the details which make this one different from the last one. And also to some aspects of performing this story that sometimes get missed when I blog.
Nor do I plan to spend much time comparing it to the last one. It is its own creature, despite there being some of the same cast mates involved. (None of whom are playing the same roles as before.)
I can say though that I have a bit more mental time/energy to dedicate to nuance this time around. We are not physically building the theatre this time as we rehearse, after all. So I will be researching into my base character a bit more, in hopes of finding some sort of detail or quirk that would be useful. I will also begin working on different voices for my four characters. Time to pay attention to public televisions Brit-coms again. (Which I often watch anyway.)
I also won't get bogged down in the play within a play aspect of this. Though the concept dictates that my character Frederick Dickens, will be himself portraying characters, I won't be trying to convey that. I will simply be portraying whatever character any given scene calls for, and committing to that totally. (Unless that doesn't fit with the overall vision this director has.) In other words, I will be Old Joe, not Frederick playing Old Joe. That is what I did the last time, and I see no reason to deviate from that.
The director will be out of town for about a week, and though rehearsals will be similar to those of Thurber, (Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for this show), we will not meet again until this coming Thursday. I'll have some extra time to go over lines, and ponder some of these details I mentioned. Such ponderings will of course go up here.
And so, the Christmas Creep begins, as does a whole new production.