Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'The First 'Real' Rehearsal'

What a difference a day makes. Today, we really went to work on the rehearsal. Here's a play by play. To seriously begin the rehearsal process, the general set design has to be formulated, so that when we do the blocking, we are using all the proper entrances and 'acting spaces'. So, to get to it, Kurt and I had to come to a general agreement on the design. This was a little stressful, because we had somewhat different ideas on the design. If this had been a bigger play, we probably would have hired a set designer, but since its just he and I, and we both have design experience, its easier to cut out another middle man and do it ourselves. So, after making drawings and talking for a couple of hours, we were ready to start on the acting spaces and the furniture pieces. In a one person show, its essential that there are plenty of 'acting spaces' to employ, so that there are plenty of options.  Once the furniture pieces were set, we were ready to really set the 'first moment'. The first moment (in reality the first maybe, ten seconds)  is essential to have perfectly set, because the rest of the play is a spontaneous reaction to those very first few seconds of the play. Now that the play has been re-worked and re-written, and cut and pasted, and rolled around, I divide it into all the 'beats'. Each of these beats or short scenes have titles that suggest the theme of the beat. For example the second beat is called Beat #2 'Singer of Songs'. Most of the beats are fairly short, the longer pieces that are of one general subject are still divided, even though the subject matter may be collective. For me, as the writer it helps me organize my material, but for the acting portion of the show, it gives me a chronological order that I can remember in sequence. So, along with learning the lines, I am also memorizing the order of the 'pieces'. We were able to work through the first ten beats today, or seven pages. Each page represents between ninety seconds and two minutes. So we blocked the first fifteen minutes of the show. I hope this math makes sense. For those of you who like to break down structure, this is why a play has a certain precision to it. This whole process took five hours. It was a good day, a good rehearsal. 

I didn't mention that the rehearsal didn't start until one o'clock in the afternoon, so from nine to around noon, there was more re-writing on the script. Because the first eighteen pages are now set for rehearsals, I can work beyond that and still make changes until we get to that point, when I'll have to 'set the text' and only make minor changes. Does that make sense? I've had people tell me recently how nervous this makes them that I am rehearsing and still working on the script. However, its fairly common when working on a new play to work right up to the day of the preview. There is a great book called 'ACT ONE' by Moss Hart,  a wonderful book on the process of creating theatre. Imagine opening a play on a Friday night, re-writing the second act all night after the performance, starting rehearsals the next morning to make the changes in the second act for that night's (Saturday) performance. That's the way it used to get done folks. Actors would have to memorize sometimes entire scenes before the next night. That is 'old school', but it is mind boggling to think about. We will be making changes to the text I'm sure even during the show from weekend to weekend.  It's wonderful to be able to just focus on this kind of work. I'm very lucky to be able to do this all day without having to work another job. 

After rehearsal, we came home for a snack and then it was off to the gym for a cardio and light weight workout. This lasted two hours, and then it was home for a light meal, some news on the Obama presidency, writing the blog and finally, going to bed. 

It was extremely gratifying to finally have some things set. Things will go up rather quickly now, once the general blocking is done we will start on the polish. I can't wait. Its on, ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a great show, I hope you can see it! Good night! 

3 comments:

Gerry said...

Interesting to see how someone is living a life entirely different from yours even though that person is like you in many ways with similar talents, but he has gone on many years before to become a professional in the art of theater. Disability kept me from traveling too far down that road but I can appreciate what is happening here. And am always delighted to share in the process as much as I can. Mom

Pamela said...

I wouldn't miss it for the world!! I really look forward to seeing it.
Have a great day!

gmail said...

My comments haven't been posting for some reason. I'm going to experiment on this one,. I have been writing many words of support. When I preview it appears in yellow but will not seem to post to you. Gerry what am I doing wrong?