Letters to Holly

Friday, January 12

Day Twenty: Back To Words

The crew is polishing up the set, and we are back in the lobby to run lines. And this time we really run lines. We have our approximation of set pieces but we are instructed to dispense with acting and just say the lines, quickly and correctly. And we do, and it is a trick.

After weeks of delivering dialogue, one tends to memorize the cadence of it more than the words. It all becomes a giant song, and you walk in, hit your notes, and walk off. You might have Big Daddy operatic notes or a small solo like Gooper. Either way, the words start to vanish for you, and you're left making certain sounds at certain times. An exercise like this reminds you that the words have meaning, and that you can't ignore or forget what those meanings are. This is why some plays feel hollow. The actors have drifted away from the significance of the words. Of course they might be bad actors or they're directed badly or it could be an off night. But let's stick to my point which is this: You have to get back to the words.

Because we're speaking them tonight at Mach 3, we don't get the usual time between our lines to excavate our next lines from our memory. We're moving in a sort of cruise control, and this tells us and each other how well we have individually reconstructed the scripts in our heads. Unfortunately we only tackle Acts I and II, and much of Gooper's material goes unspoken.

When I'm in the wings in Acts I and II, I have plenty of time to ready my next lines. I envision the script pages in my head with my lines in highlighter. I know that Gooper has three lines on the right-hand side of the book when he's offstage in Act II. A little later, his lines start on the left-hand side, and he has four of them in one batch alternating with Brick's. It's a visual memory of what I have to do for that moment, but the words are memorized as audio not video. I hear them in my head or I remember the flow of the sentences. But the majority of my lines are not remembered as ink on the page. There are a few lines that emerge in my head during the play as printed words, and I've purposefully rigged them that way to help me through trouble spots.

Tonight, the older girls practice their big moment in Act I when Gooper's daughter mocks Maggie. They are alternating the role each night. It doesn't matter who has the lines as the child isn't identified by any character. A girl runs in, mocks, runs out. It shows Gooper and Mae talk aloud at home about their notions of Maggie and Brick. The kids are aping their parents. We still have no servants for the offstage lines, and we are exactly one week from our first audience.

I feel pretty OK with this small amount of time left. I have about five more rehearsals to get my Gooper settled, and I think that's plenty of chances.

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
Day Fourteen: The Lines
Day Fifteen: Act III Anxiety
Day Sixteen: Let's Just Get It Right
Day Seventeen: Molding the Gooper
Day Eighteen: Goopercalypse
Day Nineteen: There Is Not A Doctor In The House

Picture of the Day
A recent 3D NASA map of the dark matter theory of space. Scientists suspect dark matter might make up 99% of space, but it exists outside our perception. It's all theoretical, but dark matter provides a solution to some of the weaknesses of Einstein's theories. Gravity doesn't work the way it should, and dark matter helps explain that. But to those wary of such ideas, this has to sound like magic and no more advanced than any religious theory of Creation. That's a tiny Hubble on the left.

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