Letters to Holly

Monday, September 24


Everything else I did this weekend was eclipsed by the effort to learn my lines.

The attorney's opening statement is a sprawling, weak-written salvo. Words are repeated needlessly (the word "world" pops up three times within five sentences), and the character fails to properly identify the deceased. One of the agreements of buying the rights to produce a play is that you don't drastically alter the script. Technically, you're not supposed to change it at all, but many companies erase bad language. This company has already rewritten the former Aunt Jemima housekeeper character, removing the now-embarrassing dialect. I wonder if I can tinker with the lawyer's monologue.

I also learned the examinations of two witnesses: the medical examiner and that rewritten housekeeper. What helps is the understanding that a lawyer has to paint a picture of the crime for the jury. Again, it would be nice if I told them -- and, most important, the audience -- exactly who died. The lawyer's questions follow a linear logic of describing the events. The ME conversation is a tad over a page -- what did you find, what kind of bullet could have hit the body, maybe he was dead before he was tossed off the penthouse -- but the housekeeper material goes on for days: who are you, why were you there, what have you seen, what happened the night of the death. This includes mystery men who went to the penthouse and walked off separately.

There's no easy trick for this that I've found; you simply have to know the material. I usually read a script page and memorize my lines each time they appear. I read a line, say it aloud, move to the next line, say them both aloud, go to the next, say those three aloud, etc. It dominated my weekend just to wrangle with ten pages. That's a discouraging fraction of the script. But that initial hump of a soliloquy hindered the work. I think now I can tackle batches of pages at one time, clawing my way to full memorization. I'd love to start the next Act One rehearsal with the script closed and across the room. I think it will shock the others.

I recited the material on the way into work and it felt good. I don't think I dropped any lines. That overnight mental retention is the sign that it wasn't short-term. My brain feels tender, like I overworked it.

I just got emails from the director. The PI actor has dropped out of the play and quickly managed to snag the male lead in Taming of the Shrew in another production; sounds like he auditioned for two roles and picked the better offer. Can't blame him for that. We also still need a handful of actors for small roles and a stage manager AND a production designer.

The director also is surveying the cast for which weekend day we'll surrender for a full, regular run-through of the play. It seems like we're only rehearsing Tuesday through Wednesday, and the director wants to avoid Monday. Because of schedule hiccups, we're doing Act Two on Tuesday, Act One on Monday, and then Act Three the last day. I'd rather do the run-through on Friday and give myself the full weekend at home.

Instead of becoming worried about this show, I'm instead almost disturbingly determined to be the best part about it. If nothing else, the folks spending their time and money to see this play will enjoy watching me. I will not let this show become a waste of time for me or them.

Saturday morning, I hit the garden. We had piled deadwood on top of the dead blackberry bushes in hopes of burning everything. But the state is under a burning ban stretching back to spring. Now we hope to make mulch using a wood chipper. I pruned away the sprawling vines atop the wood, then moved the wood to the previously cleared garden patch. This will make for a shorter and cheaper worktime when I rent a chipper. Now I have to dig up the stubborn root balls in the other half of the garden, clear the ground cover, and ready the soil for next year's crops. It's becoming a regular Saturday activity, and I'd be less inclined to do this if there were any decent cartoons on at the time.

I then watched a convergence of horrors that kept me from my first win in fantasy football.

Picture of the Day
Best t-shirt ever? Mayhap.

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