Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting the Yule Log Rolling

Last night was our first rehearsal for A Christmas Carol that wasn't dedicated exclusively with blocking. There were still significant blocking issues to work out, but the blueprint is already down. Which means acting can begin.

Which also means that getting off book must happen soon. Actually, I am already off book for the most part for the short Act One. Act Two will be my bigger challenge. I have ten days. none of the scenes give me a particularly worry, save one. The party scene at the house of Scrooge's nephew, during the shadows of Christmas Present. It is in that scene that I not only have the most lines in the entire show, but it is also one that contains the word game. Which will be a bit of a task to get off book for. But that was not on the menu last night.

Last night we ran Act One, or at least most of it, twice. One of the actors was away, and will be all week, so the scenes that involved him heavily were skipped, his more incidental lines being read by someone else during other scenes.

The opening scene with the base characters in Dickens's attic is coming along. I still need to work on varying accents. In fact, in general I still need to work on what I want Fred Dickens to be as a person. I have some ideas. While running that opening scene he has already presented himself as somewhat silly. Not as whimsical as his older brother, but enough of the charismatic informality to display the family resemblance. I do in fact like being able to play the brother angle here. While all the people present in the scene are familiar with Dickens' tendency to be eccentric when it comes to his creativity, his brother has spent a lifetime dealing with Charles other-worldliness. Well, at least a lifetime as defined in these terms.

Fred, the nephew, is my strongest character at this point. I feel I am reaching a good balance between sincere joy at life and it being Christmas time, and realism. I hope to avoid the cartoon he is often made out to be in such productions, and I think, thus far, I am succeeding. One thing I find that adds to the characterization is to take any reaction that would otherwise be angry with a lot of characters, and specifically infuse humor into it. Humor and warmth. That, in a nutshell, is Fred as I see him today.

Also in Act One is the scene where a younger Scrooge is "released" by his fiancee, Belle. That needs work, mainly because books are still involved, but I want it to be one of my better scenes. It is so very short, and yet an a highly significant piece of the Scrooge puzzle. I want it to have feeling. I want the gravity of the situation, both on the moment, and in terms of the impact it has on the rest of Scrooge's life, to be present. "Belle" is a fine actress, so I feel we will be able to accomplish that together.

Tonight we run Act Two, I presume. I don't think I will feel quite as much in the moment tonight as I did last night, because as I said, I still require my book for the vast majority of the time in Act Two. But giving that the whole show is starting to come together already in the broadest terms, I may be surprised. We seem to be on quite a good pace insofar as progress towards opening night is concerned.

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