Letters to Holly

Wednesday, January 3

Day Fourteen: The Lines

First of all, I had to shave for Gooper, and now my face is freezing cold. I feel every stir of the air upon my chin.

Because the stage crew is assembling the set, we're rehearsing in the lobby tonight. We move around some benches and tables to make a small recreation of the stage. Maggie isn't feeling well. We get the new schedules, and it starts to dawn on everyone that we open in about two weeks. This means we'll rehearse or perform 13 days out of a 15-day stretch starting Sunday, Jan. 7 and ending on the 21st. The 14th will be a tech rehearsal so the lights and sounds can be set. That's always a long day for everyone.

Tonight we try Acts I and II without scripts. The stage managers will prompt us if we need it. I have this set of lines down cold. Gooper has maybe 20 lines total for these acts. The principals however have a shitload. Maggie and Big Daddy ARE Acts I and II, respectively, and the very least I can do in this production is to have my lines down so the director and managers only have to worry about the main characters. They do call for lines a lot tonight, including an unfortunate moment in Act II when Big Daddy is flummoxed by real, mysterious people outside the lobby using their outdoor voices. It knocks him of the rails for a while. There are many calls of "line" from the actors as they try to move forward.

I am starving as my body adjusts from two weeks of holiday eating. I ration myself a candy cane throughout the night as I'm offstage for most of the play here. I sketch an awful lot. There's no way of knowing how well the play is shaping tonight, nor well we know Wednesday, as this is the first time we're really forgoing the scripts. I already feel unshackled and can give Gooper some small moments of eye contact and significant posturing.

The kids, who have the fewest lines, aren't very sure of what they're doing, and I wonder how much time they are practicing with their parents. The director treats them like any other member of the cast, which I endorse. When they screw up (as we all will) we stop to get their material right before they can commit it wrongly to memory. But I wonder how much the nightly notes will adhere to their brains. I also wonder how much all this business around the rehearsals distracts them.

Running lines at home and among the cast are distinct; even I (a seasoned pro in comparison) get nervous as I prepare for my cues. I know what they are, and I know what I'm to say, but the actor before me may have memorized the line differently, and I have to be ready for that. The process for the play began with a rough notion of Gooper throughout the play which helped me memorize lines, leading to a broadened idea of how to perform Gooper. What I'm doing know is vastly different that how I started, and this new incarnation will sharpen greatly in these next few weeks.

Act Three is Wednesday night, and I spent the weekend cementing the lines of memory. I've run in them literally in my sleep, and correctly, I might add. And I find myself reciting them mentally before I doze off at night and right after I wake up. It's memory boot camp fueled by panic that I won't be prepared. Frankly, there's ego involved. I want to be the first of the six major character actors to have my stuff ready. And as the one with the least lines, I should. As nice a role as this is on its own, it's also an investment role for future shows. I want to show them I'm a good, reliable actor to have around.

Previous entries:
Day One: Reading It Through
Day Two: Act Two
Day Three: Reading Act Two
Day Four: Talking It Through
Day Five: Blocking Act Two
Day Six: Act Two Redux
Day Seven: Reading Act Three
Day Eight: The Da Gooper Code
Day Nine: The Laying On of Hands
Day Ten: Pictures and Pages
Day Eleven: Onstage
Day Twelve: Memory
Day Thirteen: The Quickie

Picture of the Day
This is the stage-left side of the set. The bed headboard will fill the large, open space.

No comments: