Letters to Holly

Thursday, February 7

Day 2: Blocking Act One

I should mention we're back to the warehouse and the taped floors. But we do have a lot of furniture and props. The director also has very specific movements and cues, and tonight's three-hour block is used up by navigating through Act One's 25 pages. The blocking provides insights to the characters he wants from us. My guy is all reaction -- very passive, easily manipulated, defensive, pouty.

We spend the first segment of the rehearsal replacing the English idioms and softening the cursing. This isn't unusual for community theatre. Often, the audience is made up of the reserved, older types, and they spook easily. Out go the "bastards" and a few "hells." Technically, this is against the rules of the contract with the script provider, but it's almost universal. When we performed Barefoot in the Park about ten years back, we changed the core line of the play -- the one with the play's title -- because it has a "goddamned." If you drive away the blue hairs, you lose business. Also, like with Barefoot, I've also warned the wife of the impending stage kisses.

Speaking of the script, I have to admit how scared I became last night when looking at the schedule. We rehearse Act One twice in the next two weeks, and we're to be off book by that second night. That gives me two weeks to memorize Act One, but that's almost all away from the practice space and the other actors. This will be rote memorization (the hardest kind for dialogue), and the volume of it requires I learn about one scene every two days. This is professional-grade scheduling, and I am, in every sense, an amateur.

My script is already scribbled with stage directions, and I'm starting to underline which words I'll emphasize.

Lookee here. When you click on the below images, they open to proportional size. Here's what the last play looked like. I'm Flint:

This is the current play. I'm Brian:

I'm going to wake up earlier to give me more time to tackle the scenes. Act Two is a little bigger than the first act, and I'm making with the yak-yak in both acts. This could be the toughest play I've ever tried, and I'll need a long break when this is over.

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