Letters to Holly

Thursday, May 21

The Curtain Comes Down

No Rainmaker. I got the call as I was leaving our rehearsal for the one-act. The producer of the show told me the director didn't have a cast he could build the play around. It's difficult not to take that personal to a degree. Maybe if I had done a better job, the play could have proceeded. I'm also slightly crushed as a theatre volunteer. I advocated that play hard during the script committee. I talked the others into adding it to the season. I also did that with the sex farce. Two shows I gave the hard sell couldn't draw a decent audition. Frustrating.

As I said, this call came just as I was driving home. The rehearsal was mostly very solid. The week-long hiatus had allowed the cast to "marinade" in the script, and the delivery was far beyond what I feared. They had snap and inflection. I heaped the praise upon them repeatedly even after telling them I wasn't going to focus on delivery that night. I was more concerned with settling blocking and props.

I had a, well, let's call it a strong conversation with one actor about props. He's adamant that we need a birthday cake. We already have a cake box carried onstage for this play with the word "birthday" in the title and a play that revolves around a birthday party. But he was worried that no one saw the cake. I reminded him that the cake isn't shown in the script. And it doesn't need to be. It adds nothing to the show except one more prop on an already crowded table. He cited an earlier play where a bed didn't have a mattress. He argued then that it was an unfair expectation for the audience to mentally create one for the whole play. I responded that such a play was probably done on a more formal stage than what we have to work with. We, I reminded, are doing a moving radio play. Selective depiction is the philosophy. That seemed to help him understand what I wanted, and we were at ease within minutes.

We also ditched the walker. The script called for it, and we managed to find a walking cane. The same actor wanted us to change the script to match the cane we had, and I was already considering dumping it out of convenience. It's not necessary to the story to see it, just to know the mother has one. Also, it frees that actress from lugging it around with her script. We tried the show without it, and she did seem to be more focused on the story. So it's out. I feel like I lost the equivalent weight of the damn thing. I'd love to ditch more props if we can manage it. The actor suggested we then change the script to say the walker was in another room, and I voted it down. The audience is more forgiving and conspiratorial with the actors than we tend to believe, and we cannot overthink the show. Any show.

For the most part, the cast moved well, and we had some adjustments to make and hammer out. But what I suggested to them seemed to work, and they supplied good notions too. They're definitely involved in make a good performance, and no matter how easy it might be if my every utterance was law, I'd rather they be passionate about the show and argue their point than be disinterested. They accept that it's my call, and I've have yet to declare "because I say so."

The actor has tried to memorize the script despite my previous comments about using the scripts. I made that point again after the rehearsal and underscored that the author will be in attendance. She will no doubt know every scrambled line and replaced word. The priority is the script, I reminded. This is the rare show where you can rely on it at -- and in -- hand.

I still need some details about the performance space and the schedule, but I feel pretty good about where we are with just over a week to go. Especially compared to the full-show debuting that night. That sounds like a possible debacle. Given the cancellation of Rainmaker, the theater need a good show right now.

Picture of the Day
That other show had to bring in Brick to play the lead. He just got back from New York where he took acting classes and did some extra work. In fact, he was on Law & Order last night as a jury member.

This is him from Scrooge.

And here he is on our magic speakity box. He got ample face time too.

No comments: