Letters to Holly

Sunday, October 7

Our First Friday

The first Friday night complete-play rehearsal coincided with homecoming at Your Sister's school. We knew my secretary wasn't going to be here. But when we start Act One, we are missing five witnesses just from the first act. One is gone for another weeklong trip. The others just no-showed. When I stand up to call the third missing character, the defendant actress asks why we were even doing Act One. I agree. But the director says, "we're doing it for the attorneys." And I have to agree with that too. I had 90% of my lines down, but I can't say how Doc is doing. He's using index cards with a shorthand script. I'm still carrying around the whole script, and I sneak peeks now and then.

Between acts, Doc tells me the 1993 cast of the show featured attorneys who used index cards throughout the performance. He's saying this as a way of asking me if I want to do so. I don't. While I agree attorneys would have notes and paperwork at their tables, I see those as props for the show, not crutches for the actors. I don't want them. If he wants to use them, and the director OKs it, fine. But I'll work the show sans notes. The accessibility of a back-up script will keep the words from sticking in my brain.

A number of us try Act One without scripts, and it goes haltingly at best. We have no flow, and we move backward at times to get a batch of dialogue right. The act takes a long time. We also may be tired after four days of rehearsals and facing a long night on a Friday. Then again, we may cranky after talking to the costume lady.

She rolled out a costume cart before the run-through to show us potential outfits from the theatre's stores. She shot down both suits that Doc and I brought and shot them down with barely a glance. She then tossed off a comment about allowing them if the director wanted them in a manner that suggested that she wouldn't like anything we brought to the show. The director didn't argue the point, and I tried on a black pinstripe suit hanging on the rack. The jacket fit great, but the pants were much too small. When I told the costumer this, she quickly suggested we mix the jacket and vest with solid black pants. Which would be fine if I was playing a butler or the Joker. But there's no way -- no fucking way -- that a 1930s New York DA would wear a mixed suit as he prosecuting the killer of a fictional Rupert Murdoch. I don't argue the point tonight, but nearer to gametime, yes, I'm bringing back the complete gray suit. I don't need to validate the purchase; it's only $5. I'm not that attached to it save that it's the right look for the show, and it fits like a glove. And, OK yeah, the costumer pissed me off.

I get the feeling she did this a lot tonight and mentally blame her for the show's early bad vibe. It might be no coincidence that the rehearsal goes much smoother after she leaves. Although, I have to say that I'm prickly as we begin because the other actors are chatting at normal volume when I'm trying to recite my lines from memory. I have to yell over them so the director can hear me. It's rude, and I want to throttle them.

The assistant director, who was present for one night, quit. The others say she's burned out, and I wonder how much that applies to the actors coming to us from the just finished Fiddler production. As I recall, they make up half our cast. We do have a new actor, and he's playing the clerk. An older gent with the voice of God. He'll make a fine addition to the show, I think. He obviously knows some of the others, and he jokes with them throughout the night. Because he's so otherwise quiet, the jokes slay us, coming out of nowhere with shocking sarcasm.

The later acts go OK, and the play does feel strong as we see it in its entirety. I get a better sense of my character's strategy of demeanor with varying witnesses. It's a long night, a full three hours compared to our usual two.

I spend Saturday and Sunday completing the memorization for Act two and beginning Act Three. I'm starting to force myself to stock the script in my forebrain by making myself recite the lines as fast as I can pronounce each word out of my mouth. It's speed talking, and it's how I ran my lines for Cat. I now have about five pages left to commit to my brains, and then I can start working rehearsals without a script in my hand. I still lose some incidental lines here and there, but I believe I'm retaining the majority of the lines. No, no index cues cards for me.

Official play website

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

My lawnmower may have cut its last lawn. It continues to kill spark plugs with a nasty oil leak, and the blade almost fell off the undercarriage as I moved to the front yard. It's a good machine; it's served me well for ten years. And I'll be sorry to take it out back and shoot it.

We took steaks and taters to Kathy and Travis Sunday night for a leisurely dinner cookout and conversation. I lost the fantasy league week by fewer than three points.

I don't know what you've heard about Thanksgiving, but here's the latest. Your Mom, while talking to P2, did just what I advised her to avoid. She second-guessed their ability to host us with a new baby and a holiday dinner, and Your Brother called the whole thing off. There is still plenty of time for plans to get back on track. But I can't blame him. What else could he do when she's suggesting they haven't thought this through? The last I heard, Your Dad was going to call them back later in the weekend to calm the waters, but I don't know how that went. Also, I'm not positive that the plan is canceled. It's possible he suggested that only the two of them stay home. I don't know. I can't speculate. But Chez Debacle still intends to go if they're cooking a bird. I'll give you the latest as I get it. But until you hear about this from Your Brother or Your Parents, keep mum. Your Mom only called Your Sis to be told she did nothing wrong.

Picture of the Day
Am I geeking out over this? Verily. I am geeking out over this.

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