Letters to Holly

Thursday, July 2

One Rehearsal This Week

This week's only rehearsal gave plenty of time in the days before and after for the actors to work on memorization. And they did. I was impressed with what they brought to the warehouse and patted them on the heads for their effort. We did one runthrough, as as the habit now, and the play is starting to take flight.

The biggest difference is the mom actress. She wants to develop the character more than the script calls for, and I may have to rein in her anger. I didn't worry about delivery so much this week. As I told them nay times, we'll start tightening next week. We'll work with props, get the lines exactly right, and adjust the moments between characters. Not this week.

With scripts out of hands (and a walker in Mom's), new things emerge. For instance, when the suitor of the responsible daughter offers flowers, the mother didn't take them in hand. She stared at them with suspicion. The script doesn't say she takes them (there are so few stage directions), and her refusal to touch them cracked us all up. I don't think it was a conscious choice; the mom wanted to keep her hands on her walker at all times. But it worked so well, I want to keep it. Things like this happened all through the practice.

I adjusted the rehearsal space to mirror the stage set-up, and that required us to alter our entrances and exits. Nothing big. It does allow the responsible daughter to kiss the mom goodbye as she leaves. It also lets the irresponsible daughter indulge in more comic acting as she follows mom out the kitchen door at the play's end. The actors say they like where we're headed. We've got two weeks from tomorrow before we hit the stage, and I think we'll be just fine.

I like directing, I have to say. This show probably will ruin me for any future assignments. I have a simple set, a small cast, and a short script. We collaborate and compromise and try new things. They've learned to work with me as I have with them. I'm glad to have had the chance. Not so glad to do this two times in a row, mind you, but I do get essentially an immediate do-over for which I'm grateful.

Your Sister is a weeding machine, and she was out in the yard with gloves and wheelbarrow as I left for work. I didn't run today; I did arm and stomach exercises instead. She made a curry dish last night using a recipe you brought back from South Africa, and it was good -- baby corn, rice, cilantro, and chicken thighs. I couldn't finish it before rehearsal but did as soon as I got back.

Alexander McCall Smith is announced to read from his works next April in Greenville, and I think she wants to go. The same venue is presenting Wicked, and I'd gladly see it if I could wear thick earplugs. I want to see how they move the stage pieces, but that music is a curse on humanity. The big song, Defying Gravity, was made famous by the original actress's ability to hit a money note, and I bet many a ticket-goer will be disappointed when the touring actress misses the mark. One of the NY Times reviewers lamented that modern productions demand such vocal acrobatics that performers burn out and shorten their careers. I believe it.

The touring performers are quite good, and many come direct from the Broadway version of their traveling shows. But that slog has to affect their skills, and I don't fault them for staying in a lower gear onstage at times to maintain their energy. The same house is offering South Pacific, and I want to see that again for a a technical stunt: When the lead sings I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair, she actually showers onstage. When the show debut on Broadway, that piece of stagecraft alone got a standing ovation. Yes, many a stage version of Singin' in the Rain has a piped-in rainstorm, but the other show's actress has to sing while lathering her head.

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The news over here is the same. Jackson rumors fly around about his will, his kids, his estate, his ex-wife. It smothers all other events. The healthcare debate continues. California and New York are in budgetary standstills. Mark Sanford seems to have finally decided to stop talking about his loves.

Another round of Tea Party protests is scheduled for Saturday's holiday. A local representative was interviews by the NPR station and asserted that the founding fathers guaranteed "the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness." That third one sounds new. I mean, I get the idea, especially for the entrepreneurial minded, but it's not an inalienable right as enumerated and can't be casually lumped in. Not if you're arguing for strict interpretation of the Constitution as conservatives profess. Most important, that inalienable rights bit isn't in the Constitution. It's in the Declaration, a document that asserts rights but has no strength to establish them. These details are important if you want to win people to your side.

Picture of the Day
The attendees of the annual Glastonbury Music Festival in Scotland. I stopped counting at three.

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