Letters to Holly

Tuesday, September 25


We're doing Act Three tonight, the act when we explicate the conspiracy twist: The deceased and the accused actually faked his murder for a massive robbery, but he died before he could run off to Buenos Aires. The third accomplice runs into the court to inform the defendant and attorneys. If she didn't kill him, she can't be found guilty of this crime and must be set free. But my character ain't having it, and he grills the two living accomplices and the deceased's loyal bookkeeper. And then he concludes with three pages of closing argument.

As we start the rehearsal, I'm introduced to my secretary. She's been on the cast list as the other attorney's assistant, but the defense table already has three people sitting there, so I get the girl. She's a student of my wife, and we knew before her that she was cast. She doesn't have any lines, and we'll probably spend the entire play pantomiming note-taking and talking about the audience and jury.

Because of the act's story, my character becomes noticeably feistier and I have to pay particular attention to pacing. The script directs him to punctuate his closing statements with certain sentences in all caps. This is becuase he's trying to direct the jury back to the original charge and description of events and way from the faked-death conspiracy. The defendant, however, is playing the act as if the conspiracy is true, and if it is, my attorney becomes a Javert -- unconcerned with truth, only with justice. He becomes a bad guy, and I have no problem playing the added degree of difficulty. It can make his protests and comments snarky instead of righteous. But I have to be careful that I don't get shrill in my exasperated arrogance, and I have to save that energy for the end of the play -- and the fucking three-page monologue.
I'm not complaining. Really, the length is necessary to encapsulate the entire play to the jury and the audience. I'm proud to have that responsibility. But, omigod, it's three pages long. I'll need water at the prosecution table, or I won't make it.

Everyone in this act is hitting home runs. The accomplices are working it; the actor playing the gangster accomplice is already chewing on a toothpick. The defense attorney has obviously attacked his closing argument at home, and the father-in-law of the deceased is reacting to characters played by absent actors. The bit role of the widowed stripper gets an advanced degree of sass, and the secretary pretends she's taking notes when she's not reading along with the script. These people came to play.

We focus on two moments during the rehearsal: the gangster's dramatic entrance at the end of Act Two and the Act Three dramatic confession of the loyal Swedish bookkeeper. We also have our first prop -- a gun that links the gangster to the defendant. It's supposed to be a 32-calibre handgun, but we're using a cowboy revolver tonight. Oh, and the judge is using small blocks of wood for his gavel, and he's sitting on a couch used in a previous production. It's only our second week, after all.

Walking and Talking
Marking the Floor


First Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night

The NFL Contest
NFC: New Orleans (0-3), St. Louis (0-3)
AFC: Indianapolis (3-0), New England (3-0)

NFC: New Orleans (0-3), Carolina (2-1)
AFC: New England (3-0), San Diego (1-2)

Picture of the Day

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