Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rehearsin' and Observin'

Last night's rehearsal consisted of two scenes I am in, and one I am not. My two scenes were the first and last ones we went over, so I had about an hour layover between scenes. More on that in a moment.

The first scene we went through had not yet been blocked. It's the scene when the young princes arrive from whatever boarding school they had been attending. After the death of Edward IV, they come to prepare for the older prince's coronation as king.

I don't say much in this scene, but I like some of the things I say. Mainly when Buckingham convinces the reluctant bishop to seize and bring forth the younger Prince, the Duke of York, who at the time has gone into "sanctuary" with his mother. The lines I use to change the bishop's mind are not poetic or memorable per se. Perhaps it is the particular meter of them that appeals to me, or the fact that they are designed to change someone's mind. But in either case I enjoy delivering them. As I do the line before when, being informed of this taking of sanctuary, Buckingham expresses his infrequent outward irritation of circumstances. I have gathered he already doesn't care much for Queen Elizabeth anyway, and by that point he perhaps has had enough of her. I have to think about it more.

Unfortunately, once I deliver the lines mentioned above, I have little to do for the next several pages. Which means, in rehearsal-world that I had a lot of standing around on stage to do. Especially as the "stunt" if you will of getting the young actor playing the Duke of York onto the shoulder of the actor playing Richard was plotted out and rehearsed.

As I said the second hour was dedicated to a scene in which I do not appear. Yet unlike many such blocks of time, it was productive. Two of the other actors were running one of their important scenes in the lobby, and they asked me to observe them and share my impressions. I want to emphasize I was not directing them, as I don't do that when I am not the director. I did, however, offer them some thoughts about how I, as merely a guy in an audience of one, reacted to the scene as it was being played. I won't get into the details of what I said, because that is outside of my own work. Suffice to say, however, that based on what they said afterward, I seem to have helped them out somewhat, and I am gratified to have done so.

Those collaborative moments are one of the things I enjoy most about amateur theatre productions. Obviously such a conversation could not have taken place in a professional, Equity theatre. Yet here, actors can help each other out, explore ideas, bounce suggestions off of one another, and rely on the previous experience of those around them to help shape their current performance. That sort of team work, when it truly takes root, can lead to some of the best productions one is likely to see, professional or no.

When that surprisingly fruitful hour was concluded, we ran a scene that had been blocked on a previous evening. A significant scene plot wise, but, at least for now, a scene that is not particularly interesting for me as an actor. Richard and I have a momentary exit we are still trying to motivate near the end of the scene, and beforehand Buckingham is really only making either innocuous comments, or otherwise expressing veiled irritation at the Lord Hastings. (Whom one could very easily see as a pompous horse's ass, and I think perhaps I will try that approach for Buckingham for a while.)

The scene, which requires a table and many papers will probably be a bit more interesting to perform when we actually have such objects. For now, we do not.

Tonight is a big night for me. We run my biggest scene. I am not anywhere near off book for it yet. It may be the last scene I get off book for this time, as there are so many lines. I have not calculated it, but I would guess a third of everything I say in this play takes place in this scene. (Where Buckingham pretends to convince Richard to take the crown.) In the very least, I doubt I will be standing around much tonight.

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