00039: FIRST WEEK OF REHEARSALS
Normally, rehearsals for a play take between four to six weeks, sometimes longer depending on the complexity of the production and the company’s budget. A one-person show usually rehearses for a minimum of four weeks. However, due to the busy schedules of both the director and myself, the one-person show will only have two weeks of rehearsals. To complicate matters, the two rehearsal weeks will not happen consecutively. The first week of rehearsals already took place, while the second week will be six months later (December.) The show will be presented to an audience on December 8 & 9, 2023.
One of my personal goals before starting the first week of rehearsals was to memorize the script, which is a challenge because my ability to memorize lines is not as sharp as it used to be. It’s called “getting older.” Surprisingly enough, by the end of the week, we did two full “run-thrus” of the show without a script on my hand. This doesn’t mean I did not have line issues, it only means that, as it stands, I’m about 90% memorize, which for this rehearsal process it has been a great help.
As a process, the director and I first went through the entire show, reading it slowly and asking questions that would clarify the reasons why the character is saying “this and that,” and deciding how such words fit into the main goal and message of the play. We did this dramaturgical process before the stage reading took place back in Ohio. But between the staged reading and this rehearsal, I worked on the script several times, creating a new draft, similar to the original script but with several new additions and edits. So, a dramaturgical/table reading was necessary.
Through this dramaturgical process, we were able to “connect the dots,” making sure that what the character(s) say make sense, it’s clear, and helps with the main messages of the play. It also helps us to discuss costumes, props, lighting, sound, music, makeup, and sets.
The play takes place in a “nice and comfortable pink house.” A loveseat with a coffee table and a minibar will live stage right (when looking at the stage from the audience point of view) to create the living room. On stage left, a ‘working table’, a dresser, and a variety of hat, shoe, and storage boxes, along with a couple of torso costume mannequin, and rolls of fabric will be found. This will be the character’s working room. Upstage center a tall table and a room divider will define “the wall” of the house. The center and downstage area of the stage will be a “free zone” for “moving at will.” The image above gives you an idea.
Of course, the set needs to be dressed up and the amount of items and props needed to make the stage look like a cozy and comfortable living space are way too many to list. Three costumes have been decided for the show, which are a challenge because the costume changes happened on stage while the actor is talking to the audience. The costume changes are not just “putting on a sweater” or “taking off a hat;” they are complete costume changes from head to toe.
Music and sound has been determined as well as “stage looks” and “special effects.” Of course, nothing will really be one hundred per cent “set on stone” until we get to work with the technical designers… and that is not happening until the second week of rehearsal in six months’ time.
During the six months hiatus from the first week of rehearsal to the second week, I will be on my own, continuing the memorization of the script and, once in a while, mentally tracing the blocking of the show in order to not forget all the work we did during the first week of rehearsals. I will also be teaching five classes and directing a play. This, without a doubt, will be a challenge.
It is at times like this when I’m reminded of the wisdom of a character from the film (and play) Shakespeare in Love when speaking about the nature of theatre:
“The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. (But we do) nothing and strangely enough, all turns out well. Don’t know how. It’s a mystery.” Philip Henslowe. (Parenthesis mine.) And this is my motivation, trusting the process with the hopes that everything will turn out well.
For now, this is the last blog entry. The next one will happen in December once the second week of rehearsal and the production take place. I hope you come back in six months. Until then, the stage is dark with only the ghost light keeping the acting sanctuary company.