Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Three Days of One-Der

Since last I wrote here, I've been to three production rehearsals. They have mostly been blocking "rehearsals," or more accurately, they have been meeting during which the blocking is introduced to the actors. Important, and at times tedious work in any production. It's not the type of work that can be written about in any interesting way. The directors placed the actors in their respective plays on the stage for each page. End of that story. Such decisions almost always evolve and change a bit during rehearsals anyway, as a production wears on.

As a reminder, this is an evening of one-act plays. Three of them, to be exact. I appear in two of this. The first is just under an hour long, the second, and final of the evening is about 15 minutes long.

I do have to make a significant correction at this point. Previously I had said that the two plays I am in were written by members of the company. The scripts and the publicity for the audition that I saw didn't list the playwrights, only the titles, so this was my conclusion.

I was incorrect. The shorter one is in fact written by the head of the company. But the longer of the two plays I am in, called Laughter of the Gods was written nearly one hundred years ago by the Irish playwright Lord Dunsany. The original script is a full length play, billed as "a tragedy in three acts." It has been edited down to a one-act play for our production. (I am uncertain by whom.)

From what I've gathered in my research, Dunsany is rather obscure outside of fantasy fiction circles. (Where he is considered a bit of a pioneer, due to his common themes of magic and divinity.) There is also little to be found about this play, though I did determine it ran on Broadway for just over one month in 1918. The Punch and Judy Theater, for those interested in such factoids.

I found one brief modern review for the script. A consumer who purchased a volume of Dunsany's work on Amazon considered the script "stilted." As I work to memorize the lines of the play, I can say I agree with the assessment. With a handful of exceptions, there is very little poetry in the script, and at times the diction is a nightmare. Still, an interesting choice to stage such a play today, albeit an abridgment. I'm starting to see my character (Ludibras) a bit more clearly now. The director even allowed me to approach a line differently than the way he has initially planned, which was good of him.

I met one on one with the actress playing my character's wife On Sunday before rehearsal. I'm glad I did so. I said in my previous post that a lot of directors don't "allow" that. Our director encourages it. Things will change and evolve as they always do, but I feel I and the actress, (whom I had never met before this show) have a better understanding of both one another, and our respective approaches to our characters.

If you've read this blog regularly, you know how often I say this: feeling comfortable and amiable with your cast mates isn't 100% necessary for a high quality show, but it makes it a damn sight more likely and easier.

The director of the whole company, (and author of the shorter play) did tell me he liked where I was going with my character in that play. That's probably the main "news" to report for now. As I think about it, I don't think I've ever performed any role in front of the playwright who wrote it before. I was an A.D. for a show that a local playwright wrote, and he came to rehearsals. The same thing happened in college, in fact. But I've never been in this situation before.

It's not as awkward as I thought it might be, though it is a short play, and the playwright himself has to appear in it too, I believe, because of the lack of cast members. There's probably too much to worry about for me to feel too awkward about it.

That's been the only major difficulty in this production so far: schedules. We've not had the whole cast together on one night yet. This of course makes blocking and character work somewhat difficult. Yet I feel most sympathy in this regard for the one play I am not in: Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread by David Ives. I was in that same play years ago, and it requires such exquisite precision in both rhythmic line delivery and stage placement that any missed rehearsal is equal to two missed rehearsals in a more standard show.

Plus in this production the director is making use of dance moves, which means a choreographer, who already has limited time to commit to rehearsals. I sympathize with the plight of that part of the production, but I won't lie; I'm relived I won't have to be doing that show again! Once is probably enough for that one.

Next official rehearsal is this coming Friday.


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