So said our director last night during notes after a long and somewhat bumpy rehearsal. (Which included an actress being locked out of the building somehow right before she entered for a scene I was in. We improvised around it.)
Several good things were happening. To begin with, we were in costume for the first time, and that is always a plus. I'm in a simple charcoal gray suit. I opted for a black neck tie. Right before I went on for my first scene I felt the outfit needed something more. After scrounging around in some boxes, I located a white lady's glove that served quite well as a handkerchief for my break pocket. I can't ever remove it, of course, but I never have to. If I can find a real hanky I will of course use that instead.
Another good thing is that I starting to get a feel for how much time I have between scenes. Not as familiar as I would like to be, but I have at least determined that I don't have to rush from any given scene to the next.
All lights and sound were in place last night. There are still some issues to be worked out with those, but that's what tech week is about after all. The effects are solid, and will add a lot to the production without distracting from same.
My biggest scene went the best it ever has last night. There was a minor foul-up, as there are several lines in that scene that have never been assigned to anyone, and the actor had been delivering them. Last night she yelled one of the lines from the lighting booth, but was drowned out by the cheering crowd of the scene. I wasn't sure at first if she was shouting a direction of some kind. From the look on his face, neither was Richard. That caused me to skip one of my lines, but Richard went on, and I simply jumped into my next speech. (Of which I have about four in this scene.) No harm done.
It was decided later that those one liners that the director delivered will be cut from the script. I will admit I am a little nervous about altering what I will and will not say this late in the game, as these scene has always made me a tad nervous anyway. However, I have two nights to iron that out. (Though I have to talk to the director tonight, as I am not sure if I got all of the edits correct. Things were moving pretty fast during intermission notes.)
Other than that, however, I am pleased with the scene. I am slowly working in more acknowledgement of the audience during those speeches. My back is turned to them for most of that scene, so not only do I want to make if feel as though the audience is part of the gathered crowd outside of Baynard's castle to offer the crown to Richard, but also because I want them to be able to see my face at some point. That isn't ego talking, though. It can be frustrating not seeing the face of someone who is speaking on stage.
Act III is a semi-blur to me. It is the section of the play wherein I am on stage the most, and have the shortest breaks between scenes. I don't have much time to catch my breath or orient myself before I head into the longest scene. So I need to be quite geared up once Act III begins. Thankfully the speeches to the crowd are my final duties in the first half of the show, and I can leave that scene and start my intermission right away. Still, it is quite a 20 minute span for me. None of the rest of the play, as of yet, makes me feel the way that segment does as it approached. Especially that crowd scene. I am not afraid of it, but it feels a bit like a first date each time I am about to enter for that scene.
One of the bigger stories about last night may have been my performances in the second half of the play. After intermission, we see Richard crowned in a short coronation scene. Right after that we have what the director has been calling "the break-up scene." It's the scene wherein Buckingham cannot go along with the murder of the Princes in the Tower, and is therefore ousted as Richard's number one. Though I skipped a single line in the scene for the first time last night, the director made special note of how well the scene went. It did indeed feel good. Somehow it felt more powerful last night. more dramatic. One cannot always know why. Maybe some of it had to do with my small mistake, I have no idea. But I am glad the scene was of particular note last night, because it is of great importance.
I am not seen again until the top of Act V, as Buckingham is being led off to execution. This scene felt different last night, i think for two reasons. One, the lighting was set, and not quite what I expected it to be. Darker than I am used to. This doesn't bother me, and in fact made the scene more real to me in a way. As did the second difference; I was in costume, but with permission has removed my jacket and tie, and unbuttoned several buttons on my dress shirt. (It was also untucked.) This gave me a weary feeling of having been captured and imprisoned for a while. (Which is exactly the case for Buckingham.) I used that feeling to inform the so called "execution" speech. I am proud of how far that speech has come, but I still think I can do more. I am not sure how just yet. Pacing is part of it. The internal realization of what I am saying is another. It may in the end never quite reach what I have aspired to until the audience is there. But the attempt goes on.
My biggest improvement last night with in the ghost scene, I think. Still in the disheveled outfit, (though the director would like me to try to get back into full costume for that scene), I hit the balance between off-putting, threatening, and almost smug that I have been looking for in Buckingham's ghost. According to Richard it looks good from where he is standing, and does what it is supposed to do. I look forward to seeing myself in the minimal ghost make-up I will be wearing. I hope someone gets a picture of me in that scene.
We also ran curtain call for the first time. It's a simple affair. Some go out in groups and bow. Others, like myself, go out as individuals and bow. I am second to last, just before Richard. Thankfully, it is the actors who take the bow, and not the characters. I never liked in-character curtain calls.
And so began hell week. Long. More draining that most rehearsals up until this point. And it had it's problems. Yet we are well on our way. Not bad at all for three days out. (I am counting our free public preview as opening night for these purposes.) There is more work to do, and we have only two nights to really do it, but it seems we know where the trouble is, and are working on it. Tonight is to be run exactly as a performance. With all costumes and make-up, start times, and such. So it begins.