Letters to Holly

Thursday, September 20

Marking the Floor

I read over the opening arguments during dinner at the local Japanese steakhouse. It's set up in what used to be a Southern diner, and the decor hasn't changed. It looks like a roadside chicken shack but they feed you mounds of shrimp sauce and sir-fried chicken. I adore this place. And it's here that I start to memorize the script. Except I'm doing it in the hardest manner: I'm just sitting and quietly reciting it. I have no movement or vocal flow to work as mnemonic devices. Also, the director could always make changes to the script. And frankly this argument needs it. The DA strangely fails to identify the deceased even as he describes him, and he does so in an unsympathetic way. It's weak writing, but I blame the editor, not Rand.

At the rehearsal, we again sit and read Act One. We still have no private eye, and the widow isn't here tonight. The handwriting expert and the rookie cop are though, although they arrive late. The reading takes about half an hour.

We then mark off the floor in measuring tape to the measurements of the courtroom. The reference pictures show a modern courtroom where I expected a 1950s-style Southern room. We are presumably setting this in the 1930s, so that design would have worked. But this new style will be slightly incongruous. Then again, we don't have to set this in the '30s. The swindled money is still significant and there's no anachronistic technology involved. On the other hand, we are supposed to be in New York too. The director proposes the attorney tables be turned around so we sit facing the audience. This puts our backs to the judge and the witness stand, which seems awkward at best. I'm hoping we change that.

Having this marked-out dimension lets us get a notion of workspace. We won't be able to rehearse in the courtroom. Our first crack at it will be with our first audience. Also, we presumably won't have a practice jury to work with. I wonder how those who have to address the jury (me included) will handle it. Remember the jury will be made up of volunteer audience members, and we have to convince them of our cases. The defense attorney, with whom I'm talking shit all night long, is going down.

I appreciate the working space so I can tinker with walking patterns and posture. Already, the acting improves across the board, and it's only our second day. I'm still working on projection, and I may be overdoing it. I fear I'm talking on a flat keel, and I need to vary my tones with each witness. I continue to imaging Denzel Washington in the role.

The judge improves his ability to follow along, and we make our comments to the pretend audience. I imagine faces in the chairs (well, faces attached to bodies and those bodies sitting in the chairs; I doubt we'll have a jury made up of multiple Re-Animator Dr. Hill heads), but the table closest to the jury blocks my access to them. I can only work those 12 people in an arc, moving from end to another of the jury box while also keeping halfway turned to the side so the audience can see me.

Standing at a 45-degree angle from the person you're addressing is called "cheating." If the director needs you to turn your body more to the audience, you'll be told to "cheat out." And now your head is turned 90 degrees from your body to make eye contact with the other actors, less if they're standing between you and the audience.

We run through Act One while skipping the parts of actors who aren't there, and we're quickly done. With this strolling and standing, I can start to cement the lines in my head, even if they're edited later by the director. We have a short rehearsal time; I can't wait too long to learn the script. Besides, I want to make a good impression.



First Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night

When I got home, we ignored the TV and sat on the couch, yakking it up for hours. It was a couch date, and we should do it more often. I worried that we watched too much TV anyhow.

Picture of the Day
The first official pic from the Sex and the City movie. The first thing I notice is that Carrie has cleaned up a bit. She always exhibited a touch of New York trash, the outlandish accents of a perpetual fashion hound. And here she's working the natural look with her makeup. I hope this is a sign the character is growing up a bit.

I'm still angry that this "committed writer" didn't bother to jot down one word while she lived with Alexsander in Paris; really, no one would have run a column by a transplanted, published author/love columnist who worships fashion and spends all day shopping? No one?

Speaking of Paris, I love that purse. When I shop with Your Sis -- in my position as Official Wardrobe Engineer -- I constantly see items I would gobble up if I was a gal, and a purse like that would be in heavy rotation for my various hypothetical ensembles.

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