Letters to Holly

Wednesday, October 24

Countdown: Seven Rehearsals

Yes, that's all we have left before we start charging folks for the privilege of sitting on courtroom seats for almost three hours. And I don't think we've considered that we might not get 12 people to fill a jury every night. I remember watching the Shenandoah Shakespeare productions -- where they invite stage sitting in the custom of Will's day -- and even in large audiences, there wasn't a stampede to be visible by everyone in the room and possibly involved in the proceedings. I like the idea of an audience jury, and the script calls for this device. Still, I wonder if the powers that be have thought of contingencies.

Tonight is Act Two, the shortest act. It starts off with my DA questioning the Swedish housekeeper who witnessed the defendant loving up a man possibly involved in the murder. I then call up the father-in-law of the deceased for character testimony. The defense takes over and calls up the arrogant Swedish bookkeeper (the other role I would have liked) and then the defendant. The act ends when the gangster accomplice barges in and tells her the fake-suicide conspiracy is sunk; the man she's accused of killing has actually been killed by someone else, maybe the father-in-law.

We don't have the gangster or housekeeper tonight. I'm not smooth in the first run, and I think it's because there's no preparation time. I arrive, we chat, and we get to work. There's no chance to get into character. It's frustrating. I read the script over supper and thought I had reminded myself of script pitfalls. I had to find line tricks in the script to help me remember changes of subject. Two consecutive but unrelated lines contain the words "fact" and "act," and I use that rhyme to remind me of the second bit of dialogue. Other such combos include "grateful/guess" and "dear/devotion." I focus on these lines now that I've hopefully, probably, allegedly nailed down the rest of the script. I settle down in time to cross examine the bookkeeper. Both the defense attorney and defendant are stronger with their lines tonight.

You may be comforted by the small things that don't change, like the judge's inability to say his lines on cue even when reading the script. He's sitting at a simple table for these rehearsals, and I'm standing most of the time. I can see him flip pages at the appropriate time yet miss his cue to speak. He realizes the problem after we've moved on, grabs his gavel as if to rap for his judgment, mutters a feeble protest/alibi, and quietly puts the gavel down now that we're five lines past his moment. He says he'll have the script during the play (the audience won't see his elevated tabletop), but that means nothing, apparently.

We're told to milk a moment before reacting en masse, and we try that to the director's satisfaction. I also try to give myself a wider stance to make my posture more distinct from the other attorney's. We';re told that the theatre will hand out two complimentary tickets to each of us for the final dress rehearsal which will be open to friends and family. Unfortunately, this is on Halloween, and virtually every parent will be escorting their ghouls on candy ransoms. I really wish we'd skip that night and rehearse on Nov. 1, the last night before we open.

I'm much stronger in the second run and the bailiff/line reader compliments me as we call it a night. We manage to stay on track despite ringing phones and torrential rain slapping our metal roof, and that's encouraging.

Official play website

Clock is Ticking
My Big Speech
Punching a Cop Is Bad, Right?

Act Two Redux
Friday Through Sunday
Getting Serious
Our First Friday
Act Three Lines
Dusting Off Act One
Line Trouble
End of Second Week
'Go and Do Likewise, Gents'
Script Work
Walking and Talking
Marking the Floor


First Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night

I imagine Boston is all a'flutter for tonight's game. I'd watch if I weren't pretending to be a lawyer. Your Sis and I are two weeks behind in watching House, but the new season is good and fast.

Picture of the Day
British sports headline.

No comments: