Letters to Holly

Thursday, October 18

Punching a Cop is Bad, Right?

Your Siblings talked last night. The new baby is well, and things seemed to be settled between Your Folks and Your Brother. I'm surprised to learn some things Your Mom said. Apparently she refused to pay for their hotel room, and Your Brother and I had the same reaction: Didn't they just go to Africa? Aren't they planning a cruise in the winter?

It was a long day at work, and I arrive at the rehearsal after a very quick dinner on the road. As I walk in, there's a new guy sitting on the witness stand reading the script. The director explains that he's trying out for the rookie cop and asks me to say my lines opposite him. But as we do the scene, he adds goofy stuff to every line.

Apparently, the director explained it's to be a comedy role (as designed), and he interpreted this to mean he should insert funny, and his style of funny is "wacky." He's improvising all over the place, and he's not giving me time to say my lines. And when he does stop talking, he's giving me the '90s comic stare, expecting me to crack up and be charmed by this. Instead, I want ever so much to deck him. It has been a bad day, and he's not helping. I look to the director, who eventually reigns him in, and we finish the scene. When he's through, he admits he's never acted before, and he's not sure he can memorize all these lines. His character has seven pages, but no blocking, and all he does is answer questions. It's feasible.

The director brings in another to read, a much younger kid who's making a detour on his pizza delivery gig. The defendant knows him, and he does look the part. He reads just fine, but admits he's not sure if his boss will let him off for the rehearsals. We do Friday and Sunday work, and he's sure to lose a chunk of paycheck if he does this part. It might not be worth it to him even if his boss relents. Then again, the director might play the part anyway.

Then we begin the rehearsal. We're collectively improving by relying on the line-readers. It's funny how we'll hit a dead spot in our memory and try to stumble forward with what we think we're supposed to say. We'll slowly offer words as we look to the reader and watch him nod silently to say we're on the right track.

The first housekeeper is trying out her character's mannerisms and speaking voice, and I step all over her lines in the first run-through. The medical examiner reads for the cop here also. Brick if off-book and comfortable already, but the widow has transcribed her lines to index cards as Doc did. I wonder if this is really that big a difference than reading the script. I mean, whatever helps them is fine. We all have different tricks. The first cop applicant reds as the cop in the second run-through, and he sticks to the script this time.

I've memorized the closing argument to about 98 percent fidelity, and I'm roughly 99 percent steady on the whole script. I've turned that corner where my mental impression of the script is much smaller than when I first picked it up. I feel good about where I am and look forward to belting out the closing argument in Thursday's practice.

Official play website

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

Picture of the Day
I think he's flashing us.

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