Letters to Holly

Monday, December 1

Rehearsal Twelve: Toil

We got back home Saturday night around 7. Your Sis picked up Brooke's cold, and she took it easy. School was snowed out this morning, and she needed an extra day to get back into the groove. We watched The Incredibles Saturday night with junk food, and I rehearsed Sunday.

Because so few of us are off-script, the director called for a special weekend session to run lines. We won't move around. We will sit and recite lines. This is usually a measure done only between performances. A theater will open the show, hold four shows, take a few days off, have a line-through, and then reopen the show.

In my previous three plays, this practice happened thusly:
Cat: 29 rehearsals and three performances
January 16th: 29 rehearsals and three performances
Murder Game: 24 rehearsals and three performances

We are trying this instead two weeks before we open and less than a week since we officially were to be off book. Also, we've scattered to the four winds for Thanksgiving. Who would run lines during the holiday? It just can't go well.

A note on rehearsals, we have 19 scheduled rehearsals. Total. That's all. And we're supposed to be off script after 10 2-hour rehearsals. That's impossible. I can't begrudge my fellow actors anymore. This is bad planning.

Most of us assemble on time. Some of us arrive late and confused as they didn't get the email announcing the Sunday practice and its location. We meet at the director's retirement community activity center, and we sit in a circle facing each other. This is standard line-through procedure. I did one such practice where we rolled a ball to the next person to speak.

We can't start with a full cast. Our Scrooge arrives half an hour late, our judge about 20 minutes later, Mrs. Cratchit/Belle has been gone for more than a week. Who does this help? Are the actors to be shamed into learning lines? Then why do we skip the opening arguments today?

Again making things difficult is our stage manager and director failing to properly follow along when we need line cues. They say we've said the wrong dialogue only to apologize when we back up and try it as they just suggested. Now we're learning lines incorrectly. Christmas past makes no pretense of reading her lines for the second rehearsal, even as the director seated to her right tells her to close the book. This would be diva behavior in other plays. But, with these older actors, I think they don't register the rules. They're oblivious. Also in opposition to learning lines, we skip the end of Act One.

In some scenes, the actors are asking for complete versions of every line. They don't have the words in their heads. They're struggling and frustrated and confused, and I feel for them. They're asked to do too much too soon. They each go through the five stages of grief:

Denial -- I know this. I know this.
Anger -- Don't give me the lines until I ask for it!
Bargaining -- OK, give me the first part, and I can get it.
Depression -- Oh God, I'll never get this right.
Acceptance -- Alright, I've got to work on these before tomorrow.

All in about, 30 seconds.

We depart angry and bruised. Monday night, we rehearse on the stage, and we're told all subsequent rehearsals will last until we do the finish the whole show each night. So now we'll be frustrated and tired. Great.

Picture of the Day
The aquarium in a new Dubai Mall.

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