Letters to Holly

Wednesday, December 10

Countdown: Three Nights

I forget that I've shaved until I pass a mirror and -- WHAMMO -- I'm Victorian. It's very much a bad look for me. I hope the director lets me scale back the chops to slacker-cool sideburns. Once this show is done, I'll shave everything and start from scratch.

I went to the local costume shop and found a mesh mask. The only ones that had were all framed by a colorful fringe, but I at least found one the matches the purple trim of the ghost robe. I hope we can cut it off. And by "we," I mean the costume chief.

Three words for tonight's practice: Gee. Zus. Christ.

Twice I had to ad-lib to save Doc, the defense attorney. Both times I was on the witness stand. It's really difficult to leapfrog chunks of dialogue when all of your lines are dependent on the other actor. It's even trickier when you are a wordless character who can only hope your translator can pick up on your pantomiming and feed that attorney a cue.

Oh. Oh God.

The attorney is working with notes in two locations: his table and the judge's bench. He has index cards with shorthand cues. When he blanks, he can turn away from the audience and reset himself. Unless, of course, he forgets what that shorthand is supposed to mean. Or he can't read the writing. We struggle through this throughout the rehearsal.

We started off on the right foot. Even though we dress for Act One, we start with the last third of Act Two. We sit and run lines. Then we take our places and run those same lines. Then we start the play properly. When we reach the play's end, then, it makes the third time that night we've run that scene. And it still requires copious cues from the stage manager.

The director finally asks the cast what more can be done to help.

"Cheat sheets," says the costume chief.

"Give them them the scripts," I say.

And we mean it. The attorneys and judge can have the entire script on their tables. It will looks like appropriate props. This was our option for the last courtroom play, and Doc had virtually his entire script then on note cards. Legible, clear note cards. Why not do it again? The director calls our state "appalling," and it's true. Friday is both our first official night, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new stage space. It would be very bad to suck that day.

I finally get to take a photo of Scrooge for the magnet design, but I still need a photo of me as the ghost. I bought a mesh mask Tuesday, and that night's rehearsal was the first pass at using it. It worked OK, I think. By adding another layer between me and the audience, it goosed me to make my gestures bigger, which I like.

It also means I have on seven layers when I take the stand in that scene -- t-shirt, dress shirt, vest, black shirt, robe, hood, mask. I am dying under there. The stage lights and heaters only make it harder to concentrate. Thankfully, there's no way we we'll be onstage so long when we have an audience. Of course, by then they may have burned down the stage in protest.

Picture of the Day
Measure for measure.

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