Letters to Holly

Thursday, July 9

Smoothing the Fur

I got to the warehouse just in time to start setting up the set for rehearsal. I bought a rear-view mirror from Target for the mom's walker. We still don't know when the open dress rehearsal will be nor do we know if we have real furniture for the play. If not, we'll use the folding table we've rehearsed with. We'll need a tablecloth for it anyway.

The rehearsal was much like Monday's. The mom actress doesn't have anyone to run lines with at home, and this is her only chance. She asked if we could add a practice, but the other actors have scheduled stuff on Friday. I suggested we meet before Saturday's double-tech and told them to think about it.

The cast realized they could meet before I came into town Thursday night, and they'll run lines without me. I'll show up, we'll run the whole play, and go back to tackle problem areas, like a normal rehearsal. We haven't been able to do this before because two of my actors rehearse their other one-act an hour after we start ours. But Thursday, they're meeting before us. That frees up the evening for our play.

There were some line problems, but again they know the meat of the play. They're fighting themselves over exact wording and delivering the line at the right time. I tried to hand them mnemonic devices, the kind of tricks I use. If an actor uses a word I use immediately after, I know my line is cued directly from theirs. I told them to consider the previous character's relationship to theirs. The basics of development and delivery. We haven't had the time to tighten these bolts until now what with holidays and summer vacations. I think we're in good shape to sharpen our play before we have an audience. We're clearly the most complicated one-act of the four; we have more people, more props, and more lines.

I don't feel the pressure they do. They'll be onstage. I'm not. I want them to feel as prepared as feasible, and I've offered to help them run lines over the weekend. I've tried to be a good-natured director. When I give them specific direction, I refer to them only by character name. I whisper "good" when they've successfully gotten through a tricky page. I assure them the play is in front of me, and that they need only worry about giving the other actors the correct cue lines. They're beating themselves up sometimes, as good actors will, and I calm them down with a one-liner. I try to keep the atmosphere light. We're not dealing with accents or tricky costume changes or complicated movements. It's a simple show that asks for a lot of props, but those props are visual cues for lines and behavior.

The mom character has so many scripted laughs. It's designed to be a mocking laugh, a punctuation of someone's misstep. When it's time for it and the mom has blanked, I use my opera voice and yell "LAUGH OF VICTORY!" and she gets it and uses it and they continue.

We have three rehearsals after Saturday. Saturday will allow us one on-stage rehearsal after we establish our light and sound cues. That shouldn't take long at all. I have my CD of sounds to hand the sound operator, and we have only two light cues. The other one-acts will mark their tech cues, and then we'll run the entire show. This shouldn't take the whole night, but I'm afraid it will.

Your Sister picked some cucumbers and offered them to the neighbors. They had no idea we had a garden, so they were a mite surprised when she walked up bearing veggies, a nutritious Lady of the Lake.

Today in Cattiness
You might remember last year when I posted about the school's new volleyball coaches.

I said this:
The school hired a team of spouses to handle both teams. I know the husband coaches local volleyball in the offseason, and I think she may as well. To the relief of many parents, the varsity team now has a male coach, a development thought to magically make them better in the toughest conference in the state. I assume he can use a shorthand developed in previous years, and that may help, but if this team doesn't win their division or the playoffs, this season will be seen as a failure. For the vocal parents to be satisfied, these coaches have to surpass what Your Sis and the other coach provided. And keep in mind, Your Sis ended her final season with a 4-1 winning ratio.
They lasted less than a year. The newspaper has run employment notices for two new coaches since school let out for the summer. Your Sister is practically vibrating in hopes that someone will slink back to her and ask her to coach the team. It will be like Rorschach's speech from Watchmen. "The world will look up to us and scream 'save us.' And I'll whisper, 'no.' "And she will. She won't go back to the dumb parents and pouty players. She's not proud to enjoy the tiny tenure of professional coaches in the school system, but enjoy it she does.

Picture of the Day
My new run regiment chart.

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