Letters to Holly

Friday, February 8

Days 3 and 4: Blocking Act Two

I got into a groove with memorization, and I now have the first 12 pages committed to memory. I think that's pretty good for five days' work. I can have Act One done by the end of this week.

I dodged a bullet of sorts in the casting. The girl who played the widow in the previous play is, as you might recall, a student of Your Sister. She emailed me to say, had time allowed, she would have auditioned for this play's mistress role. If she were cast, we would have smooched onstage. I'm 18 years older than her. That would rile up Mayberry. I think she's mature enough to handle Stage Kissing. The blue hairs watching? Not so much. Even her mom (whom I've met) might sit up a little straighter over that.

On Friday night, we sit around the table and write down the initial blocking for Act Two's first scene. The mistress is sick as is the director and his wife. We walk through the act afterward. We also bump up the age of the wife by ten years. There are also more changes to language and locations. Instead of Salisbury and London, we're talking Syracuse and New York. We leave about an hour early.

Sunday's rehearsal is much the same as we finish Act two with the murderer. He wonders how to play his character -- is he gay or is it all mind games? I think it's more kin to vampirism than sex, and there's no suggestion of anything physical happening between the two male characters. The play includes a line explaining the murderer as carrying hate for his step-dad and projecting it on my character, but it's fleeting compared to the cross-dressing and references to traveling as a married couple.

The director is concerned about our emotional flow throughout the play and singles me out as playing the role at too even a keel. I do not point out that this is only our fourth rehearsal, and we're walking with script binders and writing down blocking notes while we're crossing out anachronistic language. But I'm tempted. I'm leaning toward Jack Lemmon as a performer template, especially his work in Glengarry Glen Ross. I picture this play as a noir, and I'm playing the guy who makes his own torturous bed. The murderer here could very easily have been a femme fatale. It's noted that this will be the most risque show this theatre has tried, even when he dilute the hard language and play the murderer as straight.

The director also mentions that in order for the murderer to credibly knit onstage, the actor will need to learn simple stitches. We'll perform very close to our audience, and the majority female attendees will get distracted if he's not doing it right. I had to learn a piano chord for an earlier show for the same reason. The wife, mistress, and murderer have to wear identical wigs, and the mistress has to wear two at one time at the play's end. That actress works at a costume shop, though, and can get us wigs easily.

Despite the director's assurances, we run over our time, and it's 5:20 before I can pick up Your Sister to catch the live wrestling show in the next state. We were supposed to see Julius Caesar Friday night, but my rehearsals bumped me from the show, and she took the art teacher instead. For that, the acting note, and the long Sunday rehearsal, I'm grumpy as I run out the door.

Picture of the Day
We sat this close to the ring.

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